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The sound of silence - Part two: The howling hand


Regarding what I said in the previous article about supposed references to stylistic currents of architecture, we can affirm that these types of references can be inspired by any one of the main arts.

I spoke about architecture because I studied it at school, but we could have also spoken about literature, painting, sculpture and many other figurative arts; so, I thought, why don’t we speak about model soldiers?

My opinion is that we are facing a modern way of expression just because of the skill with which new materials and new technologies, mixed with the usual techniques, have been implemented.

The theme concerning the language of shapes and their inner energy, their hidden, as well as communicative meaning, is open; in this view, the unending discussion among those observers who prefer a model soldier in a static pose, or those who prefer it in an active one, cannot be easily explained.

Sometimes a hand, its gesture, its position suggest many things; they summarise the figure’s action proper, and surely this is the reason why the Cannone brothers dedicate their keenest attention to it, like for example in the “Zuavo” and in “Il marinaio russo della Guerra di Crimea”.

Cannone Zuavo

Cannone Marinaio Sebastopoli

Let’s observe “Il cacciatore russo”: the hand of this figure seems to lead the action, because in Cannone brothers’ works it is indeed almost always put in evidence and is sculpted and painted with great care.

The expressionism of a figure lies in its wholeness and in its gestures, not only in its face.
In this “Scottish gentleman” sculpted by Bill Horan, you can notice how important is the man’s hand in its winking pose, and this this “Light Infantry French Officer”: don’t you think that he could be angry?

Cannone Uff. Fanteria
On this regard, it is important to emphasize that the attitude of a subject completes the facial expression intended by the author; it is possible to reconstruct a story through the geometry of strengths and not only through the solitary subjects: above all in dioramas or in subjects in a dynamic pose, geometry plays a fundamental role.

The energy of actions must have an height towards which to aim, or a centre around which to rotate in order to keep its real meaning, like for example another of Cannone brothers’ work: “La battaglia della Sforzesca”

Cannone Sforzesca

The centre is very important even in an “explosive” diorama such as Bill Horan’s “Albuhera”: it seems to be a very dangerous place if everyone, though fearless, escapes from it!

Horan Albuhera

It is indeed classical painting as well as physics to teach us that, if energy of actions hadn’t its centre, every gesture would run out in a few moments, dissipating in the immense empty space that surrounds everything (someone talked about shape entropy!), this is why dioramas are extremely difficult to realise, and maybe this is why many people prefer static subjects, because they “..last more”.

Cannone Trincea

“Il fante russo” who patrols the trench fearful of a probable encounter with the enemy, and Berselli’s “The Roll Call” taken from an English painting dating back to the end of the XIX century, can help me explain: the first subject walks looking toward his right side with circumspection, and the tension in his bent body, the fear of a bad surprise convey anxiety to the observer, who can very well perceive it.

The second work can be observed from left to right, from up to down; on the left side we can see the officer on horseback, he tells us about a list of survivors, and about the result of a battle maybe won, but dearly; there’s an atmosphere of “calm after the storm” in this diorama.

On the contrary in “La Pattuglia” by the trio Jula-Balloni-Favaro (this work too, is drawn from a XIX century painting), we can see at first some knights crossing the scene, and then a little shepherd who has been stricken by this meeting, but he remains the master of the field, in absolute stillness.

22 Jula Balloni Favaro Pattuglia.jpg

All this is the result of western people’s habit who learned to observe figures from left to right and from up to down.

An artist must be particularly skilful in his pursuit of expressiveness, for his works are characterised by nonverbal communication; thus, the medieval “Portabandiera” by Marchetti, painted by Emiliano Iacobacci is quits with the observer: the geometry is perfect from right to left, from backward to forward, down and up, we can quickly notice its advance through the convergence of the directrices (we must also observe the flag) and this advance is enthusiastic, solemn, sure, … victorious! .

Iacobacci SPQR

Iacobacci SPQR

Cannone Tamburo

One seems to hear the roll of drums as we observe this “Tamburino d’Artiglieria” by Pasquale Cannone,
Latorre bagpipe
or the sound of bagpipes accompanying the Highlanders advance in this work by Latorre.

Giuliani Araldo
And don’t you find that the sound of this “Araldo fiorentino” by Marco Giuliani is too shrilling, and that the subject’s cheeks are so swollen that it seems to say: “Let me listen to … the sound of silence”?

Would you like to see and to listen to the sound of silence?

Click HERE to see and to listen to the sound of silence.

Listening to …

Stefano Castracane

(traslated by Stefania Valente)

P.S.I want to apologize and to thank SOLDATINI and FIGURINES reviews, as well as the authors of the photos I found on the Internet if I borrowed some of their images (in particular “La pattuglia” and “The Roll Call”) without which I couldn’t realize my article.

Horan piacione


Signanini Duroc