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A question about French paint schemes

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French paint scheme(s) ?

I came across representations of that similar paint scheme on several kinds of French warships built between 1693 and 1787, a paint scheme French specialist Boudriot describes in several of his books : 

 

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Le Saint-Philippe, 90-gun ship, 1693 (J.-C. Lemineur)

 

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L'Aurore, light frigate, 1697 (Reconstitution Lemineur)

 

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La Dauphine, 28-gun light frigate, 1703 (here). Video of her 3d model :

 

 

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Le Louis XV, 110-gun ship, 1720, (Musée de la marine)

 

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M. de Gennes de La Chancelière, Le Penthièvre,  ship of the French East India Company, drawn at La Praya in 1743 (SHD Toulon)

 

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La Renommée, 9-pdr frigate, 1744 (from Boudriot's book)

 

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Le Comte d'Artois, fluyt of the French East India Company (Museum of Lorient)

 

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J. Vernet, 20-gun Corvette, 1758

 

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L'Hermione, 12-pdr frigate, 1779

 

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A 74-gun ship, 1780 (Boudriot)

 

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Le Rochefort, yacht, 1787 (G. Delacroix)

 

 

My question : 

Was this paint scheme :

  • historic ?
  • If so, was it used  
    • often/always ?
    • on warships only ? Also on trade ships ? Also on the ships of the East India Company ?
    • over what time period ? 16th-17th-18th centuries ? Till the Revolution ? After the Revolution ?
    • only by one or a few shipyard(s) ?
  • Are there other historic paint schemes used by the French Navy ?

Any help and examples (convincing paintings...) would be welcome. 🙂

 

An answer in J. Boudriot, La couleur dans la marine classique, Neptunia n° 148 :

Basically, in brief (for more info and a color chart, see Boudriot's article) :

  • during the Ancien Regime (till c.179x) :
    • underwater part of the hull in off-white ; topsides in black and yellow ochre ;  red ochre for the interior paintwork ; Naples yellow for the sculpture. See this paint scheme above. On XVIIIth century paintings, those colors are dull (see Vernet's marine above).
    • + sometimes an expensive blue on the upper part of the topsides (see L'Hermione)
  • during the Revolution and more again during the 1st Empire (179x-1814) : phase-out of the ochres, especially the red ochre, in favor of the black and white.
  • during the Bourbon Restoration and Louis-Philippe 1er (1814-1848) : use of the (sad) black and white only (see below).

 

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Favorite, 24-gun corvette, 1829 (Musée de la Marine)

 

Bibliography on French paint schemes :

  • J. Boudriot, The 74-gun ship, vol. 2, p. 88-89
  • J. Boudriot, La Renommée, p. 83
  • J. Boudriot, La couleur dans la marine classique, Neptunia n° 148
  • R. Portanier's thesis
  • Musée de la Marine
Edited by LeBoiteux
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@Wagram ^ Indeed, this is an extract of Boudriot's (copyrighted) article mentioned in OP.

Some paintings made during the Revolution and First Empire periods, clearly showing the loss of interest in the ochres, especially the red ochre ?

Edited by LeBoiteux

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3 hours ago, LeBoiteux said:

 

Some paintings made during the Revolution and First Empire periods, clearly showing the loss of interest in the ochres, especially the red ochre ?

I think one should not generalise. Maybe red ochre was less used for painting the interiors of the upper decks but even during the Empire virtually all gun port insides were still painted red (red ochre). Look at Antoine Roux's paintings or the Trianon models, for example. So, vast parts of the interiors, especially perhaps the lower deck insides, must still have been painted red ochre. An English eyewitness of the battle of Aboukir even reports ships of the line whose hulls, i.e. exterior walls, were painted red (Le Timoléon, completely red; L'Aquilon, red and black).

As for the yellow ochre I think that it was still extensively used throughout the Empire. The hull of almost every ship was sporting some shade of yellow ochre and black. Again, look at contemporary paintings and ship models. Even the Wagram appears to have been painted with a shade of yellow ocre, albeit very pale. This may be considered "whitish", or cream-coloured, or Naples yellow, but I'd not say it's actually white. 

Edited by Wagram

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53 minutes ago, Wagram said:

I think one should not generalise. Maybe red ochre was less used for painting the interiors of the upper decks but even during the Empire virtually all gun port insides were still painted red (red ochre). Look at Antoine Roux's paintings or the Trianon models, for example. So, vast parts of the interiors, especially perhaps the lower deck insides, must still have been painted red ochre. An English eyewitness of the battle of Aboukir even reports ships of the line whose hulls, i.e. exterior walls, were painted red (Le Timoléon, completely red; L'Aquilon, red and black).

No generalization here when I write in this thread 'loss of interest' or 'phase-out of the ochres, especially the red ochre' during the Revolution/Empire. But maybe a mistake when translating Boudriot's statement : "A partir de la Révolution, la tendance est à l'abandon des ocres, surtout l'ocre rouge, ceci se confirme sous l'Empire. (L'ocre rouge) est pratiquement ignoré sous la Restauration". What is clear in Boudriot's words is that the Revolution/Empire period is a transitional phase when red ochre is less used, also a period of 'mixing', ie when 'no generalization' can be made. A period when it is worth observing individual cases. That's why I asked if you could post paintings made during the Revolution and First Empire periods. To look at them...

But if you disagree with Boudriot, time for you to develop your argument, show strong evidences....

This thread is here for that.

btw Boudriot knew Antoine Roux's paintings and the Trianon models.

Edited by LeBoiteux

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3 hours ago, LeBoiteux said:

Indeed, this is an extract of Boudriot's (copyrighted) article mentioned in OP.

It was not me who posted that but I think Boudriot will not rotate in his grave and his heirs wont lose any money.

First, because it's such a low-quality reproduction of his work.

Second, because he's been named as the author.

Third, because it serves to discuss an academic matter.

 

BTW, I don't disagree with Boudriot or you. I'm just of the opinion that ochres of all kind were still widely used till the end of the Empire. No need for me to add more contemporary evidence as I've posted more than enough...:rolleyes:

 

So...Lâchez-vous, il y a du tafia :D

 

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1 hour ago, Wagram said:

No need for me to add more contemporary evidence as I've posted more than enough...

Too bad for us. I for one would have been very interested in looking at a couple of meaningful Revolution/Empire examples. For my instruction. This history section is made for that. And this thread too... That's what I've begged for since post#5. However, you gave us a good list to start with (Antoine Roux's paintings and the Trianon models). Thx and Cheers 🙂

Edited by LeBoiteux

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Description of the paint scheme of La Créole, corvette of 1824 (Boudriot, p. 100) : the only things that can be painted in vermillon (red) are the gunports. They can also be painted in black "Le tour des sabords en rouge vermillon ou en noir, les mantelets ou faux-sabords en noir en dehors".

The other colors used on La Créole are the black, white and green (vert de mer ou vert empire) or light yellow.

Edited by LeBoiteux

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The idea of painting the ships in black, white and green appears to have been developed as early as the Directoire, possibly by Édouard de Burgues de Missiessy (then contre-amiral), the author of the treatise "Installation des vaisseaux", published in An VI (1797). The only paints suggested there are white, black and olive (e.g. for the interior walls of the upper decks). The paint scheme of La Créole actually seems to follow the suggestions made by Missiessy (if we accept a rough equivalence of "olive" and "vert de mer/vert empire"), except for the red insides of the gun ports. So, the tendency - or intention, at least - to give up yellow ochre in favour of white - is certainly recognizable. However, contemporary evidence such as most of the Roux paintings or the Trianon models appear to indicate that the old paint scheme was not easily abandoned - a period of transition, as you say.

Above I said:

On 11/23/2018 at 12:39 PM, Wagram said:

Even the Wagram appears to have been painted with a shade of yellow ocre, albeit very pale. This may be considered "whitish", or cream-coloured, or Naples yellow, but I'd not say it's actually white.

Well, I concede that, in the case of this ship of the line,  there is a possibility that what I described as a very pale shade of yellow ocre, or "whitish", or cream-colour, may have been an original white indeed - but maybe turned yellow soon (due to meteorological effects)?

As for the gun ports, it may well be that vermillion (only rarely used during the Ancien Régime, according to Boudriot) was substituted for red ochre during the Revolution, Consulat, or Empire. Interestingly, Missiessy does not mention reds (neither red ochre nor vemillion), not even for the gun ports. So, the tradition to paint the insides of gunports red seems to have continued well into the Restauration period (to judge from the example of La Créole).

Here are two links to Missiessy's treatise (very interesting in many respects, not only in terms of paint schemes). For finding information on  the paints try the search function (by entering the word "peinte"):

https://books.google.ch/books?id=P73mKT-kv8gC&printsec=frontcover&hl=de&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false

(foldouts at the end of the book were not opened, as always , a bad habit of Google book policy; but, at least, the search function works quite well)

https://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k8596353.image

(foldouts at the end of the book have been fully opened but there is no search function, not for this book, at least)

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Unfortunately I won't be able to translate in english and in detail the paint scheme of La Créole (a matter of vocabulary).

However, along the same lines, Boudriot writes about this ship (built in 1827) and thus about the paint scheme(s) of the Bourbon Restoration (p. 100) : "Compared to the customs of the Ancien Regime and even of the Empire, we observe a real (significant) change with the (complete) abandoning of the traditional ochres. The black is everywhere with the white and the green, the only touch of whim ('fantaisie' in French) that will disappear, in turn, in 1835 - 1840."

Edited by LeBoiteux
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24 minutes ago, LeBoiteux said:

...Boudriot writes about this ship (built in 1827) and thus about the paint scheme(s) of the Bourbon Restoration (p. 100) : "Compared to the customs of the Ancien Regime and even of the Empire, we observe a real (significant) change with the (complete) abandoning of the traditional ochres...."

Great to hear this assessement. Couldn't phrase it better. Missiessy's ideas came true, but only a long time after the end of the 1er Empire. Personally, I'm glad about this as I very much prefer the "old ways"... :)👍

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Looking forward to the upcoming Delacroix' monograph on L'Egyptienne (1799) to have his point of view on the Revolutionary/Empire paint schemes. 

btw I don't know what is said on the subject in the monograph of Le Cygne (1806).

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