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WWI Austro-Hungarian Hussar and his Faithful Horse - “Freunde”
The artwork for this beautiful WWI commercial postcard entitled “Freunde” (German for “Friends”) was taken from an original painting by Heinrich Schubert. Although so far I have not been able to find out anything about this artist, it is clearly evident that he knew exactly how to paint a picture that would sell.
Coming in on the tail end of the Edwardian Era, WWI was still a time when sentimentality appealed to public taste as is evidenced by this picture. The wounded hussar’s faithful horse has sought him out and peers longingly at his wounded master through an open window. The handsome young man, resting in a chair and propped up by a pillow, reaches out to stroke the horse’s soft muzzle. The soldier, oddly enough, is wearing his dress uniform instead of a nightshirt, and is covered up to the waist with a blanket. A book that he was reading dangles from his left hand. His shako with the Austro-Hungarian Empire eagle rests on a chest behind him, and his sword stands beside him.
Although he has sustained a head wound, and his head has been bandaged, I somehow don’t think the artist would have let it be anything that would disfigure the dashing young soldier’s good looks.
Instead of painting the grim reality of a WWI hospital ward or the primitive conditions of a field hospital, the artist has chosen what must be a comfortable, private dwelling for the setting. Perhaps when the soldier was wounded, he was allowed to go home to recover. The walls are papered in an attractive pattern, and lace curtains hang at the window. A cheery pot of geraniums sits on the sill, and a vase of pink and white roses has been placed on the table next to him. A wine bottle stands on the table, and a glass of white wine has been poured. An open tobacco box with a freshly rolled cigarette is also on the table, and on the window sill in an ashtray which also is a match holder, there is another cigarette.
By the time WWI rolled around, the tobacco habit held the world firmly in its sway. In many photographs from the era, cigarettes dangle jauntily from the lips of young soldiers or are held in a sophisticated manner between their fingers.
Printed on the back of the postcard: W.R.B. & Co. Wien Nr. 156. [NOTE: Wien is Vienna, Austria.] It is postmarked 3-3-15 Munchen [Munich, Germany].