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M. Phan




Location: California
Joined: 14 Jan 2011

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PostPosted: Thu 16 May, 2013 10:17 pm    Post subject: Osprey Publishing Illustrations         Reply with quote

I have one question. How accurate are the illustration plates by Osprey Publishing?
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Tom King




Location: florida
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PostPosted: Thu 16 May, 2013 11:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

it depends on the artist and period being depicted; things from the medieval period are usually based on period artwork (which sometimes needs to be taken with a grain of salt) and funerary effigies, so are relatively accurate. The best sources are obviously the sources for said illustrations, but they are great for basic research to develop a reenactment kit or flush out your knowledge of a period or people.
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Fri 17 May, 2013 1:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Assume that all Osprey illustrations are pure speculation unless someone who is very familiar with the subject tells you otherwise.
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Boris Bedrosov
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PostPosted: Fri 17 May, 2013 4:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

On my opinion, they are not bad at all, but as already mentioned - they could be used only as a very basic source; almost just for simple visualization.

For good re-construction you'll probably need quite more thorough research on period artwork.

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Matthew Amt




Location: Laurel, MD, USA
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PostPosted: Fri 17 May, 2013 5:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Some are atrocious, some are brilliant. Many have a mix of solidly documented features, iffy or debatable features, and bits which are completely off the wall. Granted, I'm thinking more of the ancient-era volumes! I suspect the WWII illustrations have a higher ratio of documentation, as it were. But the general rule of thumb is, "Be careful!"

Matthew
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M. Phan




Location: California
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PostPosted: Sat 18 May, 2013 9:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thank you to all for your responses. I should be more specific; I was thinking of the early Middle Age until the late Renaissance. I guess even with effigies; the illustrator who is not an expert, can still misinterpret them. Also, how accurate were the artworks back then? Are a certain type of arts more reliable than others? For examples, effigies are more accurate than miniatures.
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Gregory J. Liebau




Location: Dinuba, CA
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PostPosted: Sat 18 May, 2013 10:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You can't generalize about art over a several hundred year period. You need to be far more specific. Take a random sample of 100 manuscript illustrations, and perhaps every single one of them will be almost totally accurate. Take another sample of 100 different illustrations and every single one of them may not depict authentic details.

When using visual art as evidence for anything, be it artistic conventions or the conveyance of true-to-life forms, it is important to have a reasonable body of data that suggests the art is correct. Can said detail in illustration A be found in other sources? Does a lot of art show that detail? Do we have archaeological evidence to suggest it is correct? Do many effigies or sculptures reflect that detail? If the answer to all of the above is "no," and the detail appears to be an anomaly in the historical record, it suggests that it was not historical and that the artist included it for whatever reason other than reflecting real life. It may also perhaps be that it's a super rare glimpse of a lost part of the past and that it was real - but that's conjecture that doesn't hold up to scrutiny as far as good research is concerned.

In every period and from every place, artistic depictions must be measured against the whole body of surviving art with similar provenance, as well as what literary and archaeological details we have to compare it to. The original intention of the art must also be understood; was the artist trying to convey something realistic, or magical, or spiritual, or of the past or an exotic place? To suggest that art represents historical details requires an appreciation of a wide variety of factors such as these.

-Gregory
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Felix R.




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PostPosted: Sat 18 May, 2013 11:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Some illustrations have a source mentioned in the appendix. Then you are able to check the sources yourself. For instance Italian Militia Man or Italian Armies of "so and so" tell the source. Those have some speculation in it, but the source is quite close.
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Michael Wiethop




Location: St. Louis
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PostPosted: Sun 19 May, 2013 10:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Most are pretty good and show exactly where they drew their inspiration in the back, usually from contemporary art and archaeological finds. But some are sheer speculation or are based on sketchy and unclear artwork, so that you can sometimes end up with Norman knights in lamellar or Sassanid cataphracts with five-shot crossbow-thingies.
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M. Phan




Location: California
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PostPosted: Sun 19 May, 2013 11:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael Wiethop wrote:
Most are pretty good and show exactly where they drew their inspiration in the back, usually from contemporary art and archaeological finds. But some are sheer speculation or are based on sketchy and unclear artwork, so that you can sometimes end up with Norman knights in lamellar or Sassanid cataphracts with five-shot crossbow-thingies.


I remember that plate -- Elite Series 9 (The Normans). Plate I, Figure 1, Italo-Norman Crusader, c. 1098. He wears lamellar and has no spur. The source was supposed to be a carved relief at the north door of Church of St. Nicholas, Bari. I wonder why does that has to be a Norman. Could it be interpreted as a Byzantine cavalryman?
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sun 19 May, 2013 3:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael Wiethop wrote:
Most are pretty good and show exactly where they drew their inspiration in the back, usually from contemporary art and archaeological finds. But some are sheer speculation or are based on sketchy and unclear artwork, so that you can sometimes end up with Norman knights in lamellar or Sassanid cataphracts with five-shot crossbow-thingies.

No, the opposite is true I'm afraid. The majority of Osprey illustrations are speculation and only a few can be relied upon for accuracy based on real evidence. Graham Sumner is an example of one of those exceptions.
http://www.ospreypublishing.com/authors/Graham_Sumner
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Gregory J. Liebau




Location: Dinuba, CA
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PostPosted: Sun 19 May, 2013 8:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
No, the opposite is true I'm afraid. The majority of Osprey illustrations are speculation and only a few can be relied upon for accuracy based on real evidence. Graham Sumner is an example of one of those exceptions.
http://www.ospreypublishing.com/authors/Graham_Sumner


Having read 120 Ospreys cover to cover, and owning an extensive amount of literature on material culture besides to use for comparative references, I would comfortably say that "most" illustrations usually have documentary evidence for 5/6 items they depict. Now, whether those references are a single chiseled figure from a stele or a concrete, archaeological find can make the plausibility of the depictions vary considerably... But for the most part, since the mid-90s or so, Osprey has apparently prompted their artists to do their homework.

The most outrageous stuff I still see is what deals with ancient cultures; the medieval themed books are typically very well illustrated.

-Gregory
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David Huggins




Location: UK
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PostPosted: Sun 19 May, 2013 9:32 pm    Post subject: Osprey Illustrartions         Reply with quote

Knowing personally at least one of the Osprey illustrators I know that the artists are provided with a brief of what to include within a certain illustration. On occasion this may go against the grain for the involved artist.

Some illustrations can lend themselves towards a certain 'artistic license'. especially in foot wear!


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Dave

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Mark Griffin




Location: The Welsh Marches, in the hills above Newtown, Powys.
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PostPosted: Tue 21 May, 2013 6:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Knowing several i can say the same. Some have a good knowledge of a specific period and so that period is well represented, but you are never told that. But other periods they rely on the author being very exact in the brief so if that isn't exact...

I have heard one author saying that when he wasn't sure about a particular object he'd try and hide it behind something else, turn it round or omit.

Exactly the same as original ms illustrations, its an artists impression, no more.
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Timothy Dawson




Location: UK
Joined: 22 Jun 2013

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PostPosted: Sat 22 Jun, 2013 11:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The artists ( more or less) do what the authors tell them to. The problem is that Osprey will publish virtually anything from anybody who will fill out the required word-count, provide the required b/w picts and briefs for the artists, without any consideration of that person's education, scholarly abilities and so on. Hence, they vary vastly in their quality. Unfortunately even some of Osprey's most prolific contributors are people who appear to have no qualms about speculating wildly, or making things up, if it will churn out another volume and get the money. Then there are those authors who are simply off with the fairies. Osprey does not care. They will sell.

Timothy

Social History of the medieval Near East
http://www.levantia.com.au
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