This toy soldier was a special commission for a man who painted molded metal toy soldiers and developed rules for games in which friends joined him for weekend battles.

This was a commission


  • Size: 21" tall figure; 25" overall

  • Face: hand needle sculpted  silk knit, hand painted 

  • Base: stained wooden child's chair

  • Clothing: hand painted bias cotton stripes, mink fur, hand dyed sherpa, satin, a feather boa, wool

  • Accessories: bayonet case: paint brush handle; bayonet holder: aluminum; belts: white leather, brass rings and buckles; scabbard: basswood; cartridge box: black leather, gold paint

  • Hair: yarn



When I showed Hugh Reynolds, an attorney who lives and works in Indianapolis, my piece called "REDUX: GENTLEMAN ON THE STONE STEPS," he commissioned me to do a Napoleonic soldier holding a death mask.

Since he lived at a distance, we communicated ideas over the phone, by regular mail and eventually by email and digital photographs. I knew that details were very important to Hugh because, as a hobby, he painted authentically detailed miniature soldiers. He and some of his friends use these soldiers to fight the battles of the Napoleonic Wars. This has been an ongoing interest for many years.

Before I began the work, Hugh sent me sketches of three Napoleonic soldiers. These were full-page drawings of the uniform details in color.

I selected his first choice, which was a soldier from Napoleon's special guard. He explained all of the uniform details and mentioned that the symbol for this special guard was a honeybee, an insect known for its busyness. Later I was lucky enough to discover a perfect bee specimen, which I rescued from the car and placed on the soldier's hand. 

I drew the sabertache, which hangs at the soldiers feet behind him, on muslin, then painted it with acrylics. The final setting for the piece was left undetermined. As with most of my projects, the figures take on a life of their own and dictate the direction for me to follow. 

As I worked on the project, I experimented with different ways to create the details of the uniform and its accouterments. Many times I had to change how I would do a particular part. 

When I got to the face, I decided that he looked like a toy soldier rather than a real person and also that he was far too happy to be holding a death mask. As a result he ended up on the child's chair with a toy dog, which also held special meaning for Hugh since the accompanying poem was one of his favorites as a child. Hugh was thrilled with the final development of the piece and said it is one of his most prized possessions.


         By Eugene Field

The little toy dog is covered with dust,
But sturdy and staunch he stands;
And the little toy soldier is red with rust,
And his musket moulds in his hands.

Time was when the little toy dog was new,
And the soldier was passing fair;
And that was the time when our Little Boy Blue
Kissed them and put them there.

"Now, don't you go till I come," he said,
"And don't you make any noise!"
So, toddling off to his trundle bed,
He dreamt of the pretty toys;

And, as he was dreaming, an angels song
Awakened our Little Boy Blue --
Oh! the years are many, the years are long,
But the little toy friends are true!

Aye, faithful to Little Boy Blue they stand,
Each in the same old place --
Awaiting the touch of a little hand,
The smile of a little face;

And they wonder, as waiting the long years through
In the dust of that little chair,
What has become of our Little Boy Blue,
since he kissed them and put them there.