Object Title





Object Number

II.146 B


From the Norton Hall Collection. Presented by the National Art Collection Fund, 1942. Believed to have come from the Ducal armoury at Lucca.

Physical Description

This armour was made for Cosimo II de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany 1608-21, for foot-combat at the barriers. It comprises of a close helmet, gorget, breastplate and backplate, tassets, leg-harnesses, pauldrons and vambraces. All the main edges of the suit are turned out over wire and are file roped. The whole armour weighs 335.kg (73.6lb). This was heavy for war (field) armour but normal for tournament armour. However it would be even heavier if it still had its extra reinforcing plates for jousting. Grotesque figures of humans, animals and birds can be spotted all over this armour. The etched and gilded decoration is in the Mannerist style, noted for its bizarre, contorted figures. The gorget was originally fully flexible with four lames at the front and rear and is articulated by a hinge on left side and a sprung stud and a rivet engaging into a keyhole slot on the right. The topmost lames are embossed to receive the helmet. The front lames have been reinforced by a solid plate riveted to the front main plate. This plate appears to be later, given that its ornamentation is symmetrical and is a single large band of rinceaux, which is uncharacteristic of the rest of the suit. It is likely that this was added to give additional support to the helmet. The excessive weight of the visor drops the head forward. Decoration: Primary: On medial ridges of the breastplate, and backplate, is the primary ornamentation of etched, symmetrical scrolling foliage intertwined with figures of animals, humans, and mythical figures. Ornamentation runs in gilded and etched bands alternating with plain, bright bands. Secondary: the secondary ornamentation is indicative of the style found over the majority of the suit. This consists of scrolling foliage alternating to the left and right side. This foliage curls off to either side as it progresses, terminating in floral shapes or personified figures, but also having outgrowths from it which continues on in progression. There are also various figures interspersed within the scrolling, being either human, animal or a combination. The secondary ornamentation was originally gilt all over, but most of the raised scrolling has been polished bright. Tertiary: guilloche, which was originally gilt, but most of it has now been polished bright. A gilded band remains almost intact around the edge of the lower bevor, visible only when the visor and upper bevor are raised. Quaternary: The gilded bands throughout are bordered with an engraved and blackened roped or Greek key design with a dog tooth edge.


Places Italy

Bibliographic References

A R Dufty & W Reid, European armour in the Tower of London, 1968: pl. LX, LXI; C. Paggiarino, The Royal Armouries, masterpieces of medieval and renaissance arms and armour, Milan, 2011 volume 2;


II.146K and II.146L are gauntlets now associated with this armour, with a different subsequent provenance. Other known elements of this armour are in the Wallace Collection: a close helmet for the tilt A 191, locking gauntlet for the tourney A 278, vamplate A 346; and in the Museo Nazionale (Bargello), Florence: left pauldron M 1427; shield M.766. A second vamplate was in the Laking and later the Lockett Collection. A reinforcing plate is in the Hermitage in St. Petersburg. Another similar pair of gauntlets, possibly for the same armour, was sold at Christies, London, 20 November 1996, lot 121.