Sunday 8 January 2023

When is a Gilder painted figure, exactly that?

 Its been a while, well a year actually, but then updating my Gilder site was always intended as whenever I had something to say regarding the great man.

 These French Empress dragoons were advertised for sale on E Bay a couple of weeks ago as being from Peter Gilder's early French army. I was tempted even though I have no Napoleonic armies anymore. Luckily I didn't bid on them and the went for over £100. The figures are Hinton Hunt's and I know that Gilder when he was creating his early Napoleonic armies used a lot of Hunt figures, so perhaps they were painted and owned by the great man. I would like to think so

The issue is unless there is absolute proof of provenance it is difficult to attribute any of the Gilder collection to the actual great man simply because he used so many up and coming figure painters. Having talked to several from the Gilder stable its obvious that he was able to sweet talk many talented chaps to 'do' a unit or three for him in exchange for new castings. And why wouldn't one do so.

I know Gilder in his haste to get its on the table would avoid painting his horses stomachs if he could get away with it. While plodders like me were meticulously painting and painting again every part of our figures, Gilder had the foresight and confidence to paint only where you can see. Be warned though, Gilder would also completely paint some of his cavalry regiments as the whim took him.

When Im looking for his work, I usually start by checking for replaced sabers and bayonets, then I check how the horses have been painted, are they wiped off oils etc. Hardly a definitive set of checks given how many painters who worked for him would assiduously copy his brilliant style. i wish I could a definitive answer to how to spot Gilder's work, but it is very, very difficult if not impossible.

 I know that Ian Hinds of Hind's secondhand figures is currently selling very early figures painted by Gilder, knowing Ian Im certain he will have some sort of provable providence. Anyway, great to add a liitle more to the blog. 



  1. Great blog entry Robbie and a very informative one as well. I very much love the history of the hobby as you are probably aware and these blog entries of yours are always brilliant and appreciated. To hear so many great stories of the man is great and I’ve heard from so many of the painters that Peter Gilder used and the stories of turning up with a tray of figures joining the masses already on the shelves .

  2. Robbie are you in a position to post a time line of Peters various incarnations , when did he start / stop working for Hinchliffe when did he start Connesseur figures etc . What year did he start WhC

  3. I could probably cobble something together Martin. The trouble with Gilder was his use of painters and then people claiming they were his work. But as for a timeline, yes I will attempt to do one.

  4. I think it might help I am having a discussion at the moment with a chap called Simon Brown who painted for Gilder . I am trying to establish if the Devishers I photographed many years ago are Hinchliffe or part of a later range developed by Peter. A time line would help me establish the facts . It might also engage some debate when people come back and tell you your wrong “ x happened on this date “ !

  5. I was fortunate to be able to visit WRG twice in the late 1970s

    Having spent many hours looking at the colour photographs of his massed armies in Wargames Illustrated I was disappointed to find so many of his figures were poorly painted old Hinton Hunt or Minifigs! He told me that in the early days he bought in many Napoleonic collections without too much attention to the painting standard. And to be honest when massed on his huge wargames tables they looked great. On the other hand his own painted figures were works of art. I was really surprised to see some of the personality figures, which I had seen in the magazines, looked rather strange up close. Being a real artist he had painted them to be seen from a distance on the table. Apart from his own painted figures, and the older poorly painted HH and Minifigs, there were also a very large number of figures recently painted by his group of painters who received unpainted Guilder figures in return for the figures he commissioned. These figures were what I would call "good wargame standard". But again looked great when massed on his table.

    My wife came with me on my second visit. She asked Peter about his buildings and he explained how he made them from various blocks of wood. He made it sound so easy, but it just looked a mess when I tried! He also demonstrated his famous method for painting horses. A thick application of artist oils, leave for an hour or so and wipe off. I was more successful using this method, and continued to do so. But I could never achieve the standard he did with such ease. Clearly following a method is one thing, but being a skilled artist another.

    Love reading your blog, brings back lovely memories of a very happy time.



    1. Sorry for such a long delay before replying, my personal battles encroached on things. Many people who attended the WHC commented upon the wide variety in the standard of painting etc. To start his business Gilder beg, stole and borrowed units from many sources. Being the charming beggar he was, wargamers handed over everything he needed without many grumbles. We all have favourite units that were used at the WHC, mine were the Saxon Garde du Corps, and the Young Garde. There was always a rush to grab one's favourite figures. Irrespective of the figures I just found the whole experience wonderful.