Book Review: Warriors and Warlords: The Art of Angus McBride
29-06-2011, 01:30 PM
Book Review: Warriors and Warlords: The Art of Angus McBride
"Warriors and Warlords: The Art of Angus McBride"
'Warriors and Warlords' is a book showcasing the art made by famous illustrator Angus McBride, who died in 2007, for Osprey Publishing's military history series.
The book is devided into six historical sections. Each has 7-9 artworks (with the exception of the more specific 'Rome and Her Enemies' which has 4), featuring armies, battles, and warriors of the peoples and empires of that age:
- 'Ancient Warriors' - Egypt to Hellenistic Era ( Egyptians, Assyrians, Scythians, Greeks and more )
- 'Rome and Her Enemies' - Four artworks, including the full cover image with detail of the Gladiators' Armor, and a striking and colorful
painting of Zenobia, the Palmyrian queen who took Syria and Egypt from Rome in the 3rd Century
- 'The Dark Ages' - Fall of Rome to 11th Century ( Attila, Byzantines, Rus, Vikings...)
- 'Medieval Conquest' - 11th - 15th Centuries ( El Cid, The Mongols, their invasion of Japan, The Hundred Years' War...)
- 'Warlords and Rebels' - 15th - 17th Centuries ( Samurai, Germans, Aztecs, The 'Elizabethan Sea Dogs', The English Civil War...)
- 'Exploration and Invasion' - 17th to 20th Century ( Pirates, Highland Clansman, Napoleon's Dragoons, The Zulu, The Alamo...)
In the foreword, by Martin Windrow, series editor of Osprey and McBride's personal friend, he gives a short biographical sketch, and follows the development of his career, which started as a coffee boy in an advertising agency ( wanting to be an artist in post-war Britain, it says was "tantamount to a subversive manifesto" ).
Windrow tells about McBride from a personal perspective, in which he comes across as warm and passionate person.
Most of the foreword is an interview between the two, with minor changes, that originally appeared, it says, in 1987, in an article about McBride that Windrow made for the magazine he founded and edited, 'Military Illustrated Past & Present'.
McBride, a self-taught artist, describes his work process, how he gets the right feeling for the era he depicts, about his technique, how he works for historical accuracy, what materials he uses, some advice for beginning artists and more ( an anectode mentioned: the one time he used oils for an illustration, it was held by the Heathrow Airport Customs under the suspicion that it was a smuggled Old Masters painting! ).
The foreword also shows some of the work he made for other clients. Apparently he loved doing fantasy art, because of the creative freedom it gives the artist. He also made a lot of art for RPG/board game company 'Iron Crown Enterprises' ( which included art for Middle-Earth based games ) One such work is shown in four stages from beginning to completion with a short explanation.
Each artwork is accompanied by a page or two of text: a short and detailed historical overview of the time and place, and a detailed description of the painting. Sometimes an image of the work with numbered details for further explanation is added to the text.
The art is based on the research made by the author of the particular book. When no specific detail was given for a certain object in the scene, McBride did his own research, or, in the few cases when there wasn't an inkiling of historical evidence, based it on his experience and the best possible guesswork.
The light work is excellent, and it infuses the art with life and realism. It is especially apparent in the reflection of the sun on armor, which is amazing, wether it's plate or mail.
Most of the paintings show the warriors or soldiers in a passive ( standing, sitting, on horseback, looking over a battlefield or siege... )
or active ( riding, and of course fighting...) pose.Even when the characters are physically passive the paintings feel alive and energetic.
They never feel static, but like captured moments in time that convey the action and emotion of the people and the scene shown, and in many of the pieces there is also an emotional relationship between the characters, positive or negative.
There is a wide variety of situations: Celtic charioteers riding in their village, in a display of power, being followed by running children ( and a dog ), Assyrians laying siege, Knights in a tournament in extravagant costumes ( probably the most colorful work ), the English fighting the Armada...
Some of the works ( Taken from the 'Warrior' series ) show a warrior on a white background with detailed art of his armor, equipment, jewelry etc.
Some ( mainly from the 'Campaign' series ), show the scene of a historic battle, such as the Egyptians vs. the Sea Peoples at sea, the Mongol invasion of Japan, Davy Crockett fighting at the Alamo, and the Battle of Hastings ( the painting shows William the Conqueror raising his helmet - his brother Bishop Odo gesturing at him and shouting to the warriors - disproving the rumor that he has been killed ).
Perhaps the most powerful image is that of the end of the naval battle of Svoldr (in Old Norse, now 'Svolder') in September 1000 (or 999 according to Wikipedia, due to some medieval writers ending the year in September) - the background for the battle (which began in an ambush) being territorial contest between the strengthening Norway and Denmark, and Olaf's policy of forcible conversion. It shows the defeated king Olaf I Tryvagsson of Norway and his few remaining defenders standing face to face a few paces away from the victors - surrounded by the fleet that greatly outnumbered Olaf's eleven ships. It captures a short, quiet moment before and after a storm, after the battle, and before the king, against his enemies' intention to capture him, jumps into the sea in full armor, raising his shield above his head.
The power and popularity of this image is apparently obvious to Osprey, and they made a poster of it.
The last two pages contain, first, a thumbnail gallery of 49 Osprey titles McBride made art for, and on the other, a list of all titles he worked on to the time of the book's publication, which is October 2002.
The book is highly recommended to history buffs, military enthusiasts, people who love hisorical costumes, people who want factual details for painting historical miniatures, and anyone who likes good art.
McBride did alot of work for Osprey ( he also both wrote and illustrated 'The Zulu War' of the Man-at-Arms series). Each book, depending on which series it belongs to, has about 8-12 plates. That means hundreds of those beautiful artworks. I hope that Osprey, or someone else, takes it upon themselves to publish more books with his work, both for Osprey and the other projects/companies he worked on.
The 'Rome and Her Enemies' series alone has 4 books with art by McBride, meaning 32 works, eight times more than in the book.
It would be nice to see the art he made for Iron Crown as well. Very little of it is even found on the internet. Does anyone happen know of an 'Art of Iron Crown' book or something similar that maybe came out twenty years ago?
The is another art book by Osprey, 'Osprey: Man-at-Arms: A Celebration', which has art only from the 'Man-at-Arms' series (which is Osprey's original, flagship series and has the most books) and from all artists. I might review it later on, but will only mention now for those that might now check it, that I was so super excited to find that this book existed, that I didn't look at the available Google Books preview but just went ahead and bought it through Amazon Marketplace for $185 ( no, I'm not rich ).
However, although I'm not sorry for buying that book, I was very disappointed to find out that in a 388 page book, the ancient world got only 19 pages! The American Civil War alone gets 21. I understand that the content of the book is proportional to the art Osprey has, and Martin Windrow even mentions in the foreword to the ancient period section the appeal of that period.
Still, the age of uniform begins about a third into the book ( and just a bit more if you count the colorful 18th century). I assume that most people would agree that aesthetically, the ancient-to-medieval world is the most interesting period and not the age of uniform with its, well, uniformity and lack of imagination. There is a lot of Art by McBride in the first third of the book, and a few more works in the rest. Though It's not my intention that the other art is not good.
In 'Warriors and Warlords', you can see at the beginning of the review that it's vice versa, also proportional to the art McBride made ( it says in the interview that McBride admits to having little interest in uniforms, and prefers to work in the ancient and medieval settings ).
Because of the popularity of their art, Osprey also made postcards collections:
However it would be nice to see more art in book form, preferably arranged by period.
Where to get the book:
I got mine by mail order from the UK's Book Palace - http://www.bookpalace.com, but I can't see it on their catalog now (although they have art he made for Look and Learn and others).
It is not available directly from Amazon, except, like mostly all books they don't have, through Amazon Marketplace, used and new (three are 'fulfillment by Amazon' purchases but are available only in the US):
It is also available through non-American Amazon sites. You can check them through here:
I checked and it is available in the Japanese Amazon Marketplace.
Other places: Amazon (US | CA | UK | DE | FR | IT | JP)
A Google Products search brings up these results:
and also this:
Other books by McBride:
For Hong Kong Based Concord Publications and other publishers:
Search for Angus McBride with: Concord Publications, Fighting Man Series, or with Tim Newark.
'Imperial Rome at War' is written by Martin Windrow, others by Tim Newark. Some are by other publishers.
The only Iron Crown art book I'm aware of:
'Angus McBride's Characters of Middle-Earth' for Iron Crown Enterprises:
64 pages with 29 paintings (source: http://www.icewebring.com/ICE_Products/M...acters.php )
'Warriors and Warlords' book details:
Osprey Publishing, October 2002
Hardcover, 144 pages
28 x 24.2 x 1.8 cm / 11 x 9.5 x 0.7 inches
|Messages In This Thread|
Book Review: Warriors and Warlords: The Art of Angus McBride - Halcyon - 29-06-2011 01:30 PM
RE: Book Review: Warriors and Warlords: The Art of Angus McBride - gad - 05-03-2012, 04:02 AM
RE: Book Review: Warriors and Warlords: The Art of Angus McBride - Halcyon - 06-03-2012, 11:38 PM