Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Black Brunswicker

The Black Brunswicker (1859-60) by John Everett Millais (1829–1896).

Millais shows here a member of that famous German mercenary corps that fought in British service against Napoleon. The young soldier parts from his lover before the battle of Waterloo. He is characterized by his black uniform and the prominent skull and crossbones on his hat. But I think these signs are serving also to indicate his almost certain fate, because the Brunswickers suffered terrible losses at Waterloo.

Neither the Brunswickers nor Millais could suspect that the well designed black uniform with the skull and the bones should become very popular in the German right-wing Freikorps movement after the First Worls War and become on this way the pattern for the uniform of the SS.


  1. The reproduction on the wall: isn't it from Delacroix' "Napoleon traversing the alpes"?

  2. Nothing to do with Delacroix, who had only 16 years at Waterloo. But it's from Delacroix's great neoclassical opponent Jacques-Louis David: Napoleon crossing the Saint-Bernard (1801).