Sunday, 20 September 2015

Plague Doctors!


Life was tough in 17th Century England, if you did manage to survive childhood you could look forward to another thirty to forty years of drudgery and toil provided of course that you managed to avoid the plague!  It is no surprise then that the arrival of a Plague Doctor to your hamlet was seldom seen as a good omen.  A portent of imminent death the plague doctors were physicians who tried to bring some comfort to those inflicted with very little hope of success.

Engraving by Paul Fürst, 1656.
It is of course their costume that still to this day manages to combine fascination with fear. The eerie beaked, birdlike mask, with small glass eyes was developed, perhaps not unreasonably, in the belief that strong, pleasant smelling concoctions that included camphor, myrrh and lavender stuffed into the ‘beak’ would act as a filter against the plague ridden, filthy air.


A full length waxed cotton or leather coat was again hoped to afford some protection from the disease with many carrying a staff, not as a symbol of office, but to lift the clothing and bed sheets of infected patients to get a better look without actually resorting to touching them!  



Such is the delight of the ‘Witchfinder General’ world that the truly iconic Plague Doctor can be included as an apothecary with the ability to revive those that are in base contact with him.  I was only planning on painting one of these physicians of fear from the 'Wargames Foundry' range, but it seemed such a waste not to polish off the remaining group including the ‘patient’ that is being ‘oh-so’ sympathetically transported in a wheelbarrow.  


Requiring very little in the way of preparing, I opted to simply ape the colour palette used by Foundry, perhaps not my most creative decision, but it seemed to work for me.  Wanting to put my own stamp on them I invested a little more time in the rose tinted lenses of their masks and finally a piece of self indulgent frippery saw me use bostik glue to create the illusion of the red paint, used for marking the doors of the afflicted, flowing from a brush to the ground. 

111 comments:

  1. They are gorgeous (?).

    I was lucky enough to visit the Foundry for 'BOYL 15'. Walls and walls of blister packs of lovely lead minis and the display cases are worth a visit on their own.

    I was also lucky enough to walk out with only buying 15 miniatures.

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    1. Thank you, I would love to visit the Foundry myself, but would need to save my pennies first - just far too tempting.

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    2. yes you do.

      I was told by the bloke behind the counter a full basket averages £1500.

      I saw more then one full basket in the time I was there!!

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    3. £1500 oh my word! That's insane, but there is a little bit of me that wouldn't mind guilt free trolley dash!

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  2. Excellent paint work and a very interesting read...well done with these they are excellent

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  3. Quite simply AWESOME stuff Michael. Good call on going with the Foundry colour scheme my good sir, as they are as wonderful looking as they are scary. I may have to snatch up this blister when I next see them at a show. Really cracking painting, my good Sir!!

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    1. Thank you so much Simon, your enthusiasm has rather lifted my spirits this morning.

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  4. They look superb! Great paint job! Just gone straight onto my 'to-buy' list!

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    1. Thank you Gordon and pleased to have added to your list for a change, it is normally the other way around. ;)

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  5. They are soooo cool and the painting is awesome.

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  6. Awesome model work Michael! Really like the effect with the dripping paint.

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  7. They look superb and mysterious...special mention to the wheelbarrow and to the "flowing from a brush to the ground", these details are awesome Master Michael!

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    1. Thank you Phil, I find that when I paint something that is well put together or sculpted, like these were, it encourages me to try a little harder with the painting.

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  8. Oddly enough their funny costume did off a degree of protection against pneumonic plague but not quite for the reasons offered. It was an example of a useful scientific hypothesis based on observation that had value until it was replaced by something better (germ theory).

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    1. You can certainly see where the logic of the stuffed beak comes from, but they still look terrifying.

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  9. Fantastic paint job and the extra work on the lens was worth it!

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    1. Thank you, it took a bit of research, but ultimately I was very pleased with the effect.

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  10. Great looking plague doctors! Some very nice details with the lenses and the dripping paintbrush.

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    1. Thank you so much Jonas, those were my favourite bits to do.

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  11. That is great plague driven work Michael!

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    1. Thank you Francis, the unique characters were quite inspirational to work on.

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  12. Great job - fancy a couple opf these myself.
    Regards
    Stuart

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    1. Thank you Stuart, I got mine through the web store on eBay.

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  13. Awesome stuff, these look fantastic. Great tones on the material, & the goggles & dripping paint look excellent.

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    1. Thank you so much, they were great to work on, which really helps.

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  14. Nice work, Dr. The eyes are spooky!!

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  15. Absolutely gorgeous. The work on the eyes is particularly fantastic. I wants some, my precious.

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    1. Thank you my good man, I have to say that I was really pleased with the lenses myself.

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  16. Stunning tribute to a dark part of history, Michael. The dripping red paint is creative genius. I think their attempt at bio hazard protection was pretty good for the time, considering what they had to work with.

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    1. Thank you so much Dean, I think you were right at being a good stab at protection, but it doesn't make them any less terrifying - truly iconic.

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  17. Wonderful work Lord Michael.

    As for the rose-tinted lenses, well, what can I say ;)

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    1. Thank you Tamsin, I hear they make the world a better place. ;)

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  18. Absolutely beautiful painting, Michael. The plague doctor outfit is wonderfully creepy and distinctive, although it does remind me of Spy vs Spy. If you're looking for another addition to your doctors, C P Models has one in its Night Terrors range. These would also make a good 17th century Penguin crew...Witchfinder Batman, perhaps?

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    1. Thank you Jez, I had spied that CP Models version and was quite tempted before, but now you've really git me thinking!

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    2. Slightly off topic - I was in Wilkinson's today and noted that their peanut bird feeders are only £1 or £2. As they're essentially a square of mesh formed into a tube, could possibly be an alternative source for your Gotham zoo cages. Or as a different type of enclosure. Just a thought.
      Regards Jez

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  19. Fantastic. Love the dripping brush

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    1. Thank you Martin, it perhaps looks a bit too blood like, but was great fun to do.

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  20. Wow! They look fantastic! Love the brush as well.

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  21. Oh those are awesome! Great addition and a really nice colour scheme

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  22. Very good painting and nice minis.

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  23. Splendid. A little more colourful than I would have done but really up to your REALLY very high standard. (I say colourful as The only plague masks I have seen in museums where brown and black. but a quick web search shows you are also right.)

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    1. Thank you Clint and I know exactly what you mean, I was tempted by a more sombre palette, but happy to add a little colour to proceedings.

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  24. Excellent job on these Michael! Very nicely done.

    You should stop by the blog again, I think you'd quite enjoy the last few (4) posts. ;-)

    http://derfeldmarschall.blogspot.com/

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    1. Thank you Jason and I certainly will, my apologies for not venturing over sooner.

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  25. Hola Amigo
    Grandes minis y Gran trabajo de pinceles si señor
    Buenas escenas con estas minis,mucho juego
    un saludo

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    1. Thank you so much J.D. I did enjoy doing the brush detail.

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  26. Sorry to poke ya, but there's certain bloggers I love sharing my stuff with, and I wasn't sure if you're still having issues with your blog list. Thanks for the kind comments!

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    1. Absolutely no problem, I would rather that than miss out. Clearly my blog roll issue is not fixed yet then!

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  27. Oh yes! Didn't know Foundry sold these, fantastic work Sir M!

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    1. Thank you kindly Ray, they have all sorts of weird and wonderful stuff hidden away, well worth a look.

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  28. Lovely figures and surperb brushwork from your good self.

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  29. Excellent work creepy looking fellas!

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    1. Thank you Simon, not sure that I would want to treated by one.

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    2. No nor me!! Leeches for everything no doubt eek!

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  30. Lovely work, Michael - I had no idea that Foundry made these guys! At the risk of bandwagoning, these chaps could be pressed into service as alternative Apothecaries for Frostgrave...

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    1. Thank you Evan, although you have lost me with the Frostgrave connection, something that I did actually manage to resist, but the rest of the community jumped on - such is life! ;)

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  31. Superb painting, the corpse in the wheel barrow is rather grim!

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    1. Thank you, as for the corpse, he has certainly seen better days.

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  32. Wonderful stuff mate. I find them just as fascinating as you do it seems. I cannot imagine being visited by something looking like that could ever make you feel better!

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    1. I couldn't agree more, absolutely terrifying costumes. I can't help thinking you would think your time was up if one of these chaps knocked on your door!

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  33. I've always found their outfits both fascinating and very, very creepy. Beautifully rendered Sir!

    Pip pip

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    1. Good to hear from you old chum, we've missed you and thank you.

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  34. They are fear inducing even in the modern age.

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  35. "We'll cure you or the wheelbarrow ride to the cemetery's free of charge."

    Creepy. All the more so because they actually existed.

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    1. Absolutely, although I hear their bedside manner was enchanting. ;)

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  36. macabre and fascinatng subject! Wonderful painting!

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    1. Thank you so much, they certainly got my imagination firing.

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  37. I love these! Ever since I was a kid I've found those masks to be inexplicably horrifying (in a good creep-out-the-kids kind of way). Wonderful work.

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    1. Thank you so much Curt, like you I have been absolutely fascinated by the concept of the costumes, more so because they actually existed.

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  38. Excellent paintjob Michael! Don't feel too bad about copying the Foundry colour scheme. Works brilliantly! The dripping paint is a really nice touch. Really takes them to another level.

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    1. Thank you so much, sometimes when I see what someone else has done, I freeze and just have to copy them, I think that's why I sometimes look to put my own twist on them.

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  39. They look seriously weird - in a good way!

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    1. Thank you Scott, greatly appreciated.

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  40. They sure are a bit ominous looking are they not. Really lovely painting btw!

    Christopher

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  41. Awesome job Sir Michael! Great to see the Witchfinder General project going strong.

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    1. Thank you Bob, fit and starts I'm afraid, but one day.

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  42. These are ruly some of the creepy, yet historically accurate figures that also wouldn't look out of place in a fantasy setting. You've done an excellent paint-job on them too - as always.

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    1. Thank you so Joe, I think they are possibly creepier knowing that they actually existed.

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  43. Stunning paintjob again, Michael!
    They look like a great addition to your Witchfinder General collection.

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    1. Thank you my friend, I still need to get them on the table though!

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  44. Exellent looking minis, so very special, very nice addition to you collection Michael

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  45. I can't find these on Foundry's site, have you a link?

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    1. Hi Ray, they are sold through their eBay shop Flyte of Fantasy, http://www.ebay.co.uk/usr/flyteoffantasy

      They have a couple of different packs, both slightly different, so worth scrolling down to the bottom.

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  46. Neither can I, I tried a search on Plague and on UND15 (the code I saw on another pic of these) but nothing was found.
    A link would be great please..

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    1. Dear Ophelia, I have posted a link to their eBay store, where I got mine. I have a little look through and I can no longer see the exact set, perhaps contact Foundry directly?

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  47. Simply stunning Michael! You seem to be a source of constant inspiration and creativity. You really managed to create an air of fear and forboding arojnd these guys so one doesn't necessarily need to know their historical background to feel the chill running down ones spine. Superb!

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    1. That is so very kind of you, thank you Nick.

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  48. Tried the link and it didn't work, however, good news is -
    Word from Foundry: Yes we do still do the Doctors, the fantasy ranges are moving to a new site. You can still order these for the time being by post or calling us.
    Payment can be either by card or paypal,
    regards,
    Darren

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    1. My mistake, I should have said that I posted a link in my reply to Ray's comment above. Great result from Foundry though, well done.

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  49. It goes to show you can paint 'em well and still make them look creepy. Nice one Michael ... really nice.

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  50. Argh, another bunch of minis to add to the must have list! Beautiful work!

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  51. Very unique figures, after reading the post I want some just for the fact of how cool the casting looks.

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