Monday 17 March 2014

The Retreat from Moscow in 28mm

This is my final bonus round entry for the Analogue Hobbies Painting Challenge in 2014. You can view and vote on the entire list of amazing submissions here, mine included. If you have a spare 30 minutes I encourage you to make the effort to visit, you won't regret it I promise you!

Now about my entry...

I've been fascinated by Napoleon's Russian endeavour ever since I was a kid. The epic nature of taking half a million men and attempting to conquer one of the largest nations of the time and in the worst of possible conditions just staggers the imagination.

The Retreat is a story that begs a modern blockbuster film but for some reason has never inspired one. It certainly inspired Adolphe Yvon's truly wonderful 1856 work Marshal Ney Supporting the Rear Guard During the Retreat from Moscow.

The painting depicts Ney and rag tag band of soldiers of all ranks and arms fighting a desperate rearguard action, one of literally dozens that occurred during the horror march homewards. Whilst for Ney it proved not to be a last stand, for many of the others it certainly did. Presumably Ney himself at times thought "This is truly it now!" only to be proven wrong over and over again.

Pulling it all together...

Conveying the entire battle in the painting is near impossible so I chose to compress the action. I focused on Ney and the men surrounding him, plus picking individual scenes from the fore and back ground and merging them together to create a sense of the overall situation.

In total there are 11 foot and 2 mounted miniatures, plus a pile of other items like a converted dead horse (was once a Renegade ECW mount), broken artillery, doors, lanterns, etc. etc. etc. The miniatures are all Perry metals apart from Ney who is from Gorgon Studios. He's the only miniature I'm aware of the captures the scene from the painting even though he is not exactly the same.

All the colours, battlefield detritus, dirty snow encrusted clothing and men jammed together is as close as I could get them to the painting. I've never tried a snow base before so I'm absolutely chuffed with how my baking soda over tile grout groundwork came out.

I'm not sure I'd do another of these as it took inordinately long and proved somewhat stressful at times. Give me a week and I'll likely change my mind... :-)

That's it for now. In the next couple of days I'll post some WIP shots and talk about more about the process of putting it together.



  1. Suggested working title; "Millsy's Feeling For Snow", perhaps?
    ; )

    Michael, this is something special. It really conveys the desperation and the terror of the retreat.

    Definitely deserving of a guernsey (or something similar to keep those poor fellows warm!).

  2. Fantastic looking diorama! Definately one of my favorites from all the fortnight challenges combined. Hope to see more dioramas from you :)

    And the snow turned out really nicely as well!

  3. That's a masterpiece...beautiful, cold work, very atmospheric! Love the explanations too...Congrats!!!

  4. I think your onto a winner with one.. its a wonderful piece.Top marks

  5. Excellent job Millsy, well thought out and executed!

  6. Fan-bloomin-tastic! What a way to finish the bonus rounds, well done that man.

  7. Thank you gentlemen. Your comments are most appreciated, especially given how much esteem I hold for your own work.

  8. This is an absolutely stunning piece of work and would be worthy of a prize in any modelling competition. Keep this up and we'll be seeing your work in Euro Militaire.

    1. LOL. It's not quite that good Anne but I appreciate the sentiment...

  9. It's a cracking piece. Really good.
    Big effort but man it looks good.

  10. Marvelous piece, Michael. You certainly finished it in record time too. BTW, didn't Ney also say, "See how a Marshal of France can die!" when he led a charge at Waterloo. Again, surviving intact - only to fall to his own. Vive le Ney!

  11. Stunning looking diorama... WOW!!! Great work.

  12. This is my favorite of this round and possibly the whole challenge so far! Very well done!!!

  13. A cracking piece of work Millsy!

  14. Really fantastic composition and some great brushwork too.



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