This set of French artillery is the French half of set 219 (British and French Artillery) given their own box. They represent an Old Guard company of Foot Artillery of the Imperial Guard, and wear the uniform dating from 1810.
This set is very similar to the British set 233, with exactly the same spec and virtually identical poses. Therefore it does not include a team of horses, or any form of limber, which is a great pity. Many sets of artillery made in the years that followed were of similar profile, with a gun and four figures as a crew, but since there are still no other sets of Imperial Guard Foot Artillery, the somewhat meagre contents of this box are a disappointment.
The figures come in four poses, with one of each pose intended to form a gun crew, though a gun would normally have a crew of up to a dozen or more. Since the poses are identical to the British set, the same comments apply, namely that they are more or less OK without being exceptional, and the officer holding the telescope would in practice need to use both hands.
The uniform of these men is reasonably accurate for the period from 1810, when they first adopted the peaked bearskin depicted here. By 1815 much of the army had adopted the square lapels specified in the Bardin regulations of 1812, but the Imperial Guard retained the older cutaway habite-veste, as here. There is an error here, because the bearskin had no front plate, which all these figures have. This is particularly galling as the box artwork correctly shows this feature. Also, while two of the men wear overalls, which is reasonable, the remaining two have gaiters to below the knee when these were normally above the knee. Now by 1815, the date mentioned on the box, supplies may have been less than ideal, but still we would have preferred longer gaiters, or indeed everyone having overalls anyway. Finally, no one has a flap on the cuff, which should be there.
The sculpting is of the usual excellent Esci standard, with plenty of good, clear detail. On a couple of the figures the sculptor has resorted to having the sabre-briquet standing proud of the body to help with the mould, which looks unnatural, but generally these are very nice figures with no flash. The ramrod has the sponge but is missing the wooden rammer - these two tools were combined long before Waterloo so should be here.
Two different gun barrels are provided - an 8 pounder gun and a 6-inch howitzer. The guns are mounted on the normal Gribeauval carriage, and included in the set are the small ammunition chests carried between the gun carriage brackets. These are nice models, but do lack some of the iron reinforcements due to the difficulty of moulding them as a single piece. Though there has had to be some loss of accessories on both the barrels and the carriages in terms of losing chains and other small items, the detail is as good as could reasonably be expected for such relatively simple models.
The small number of poses and lack of any horse teams are the drawbacks to this set, but the guns are accurately modelled and the only problem with the figures, apart from the small number of not great poses, is the number of small mistakes, the most visible being the erroneous headgear, although this could be largely concealed when painted. So this is an attractive set but could have been so much more, especially as no one else has yet covered this same subject.