Object Title

Field armour

Field armour

Date

1570

Object Number

II.181

Provenance

Purchased from the collection of the Duke of Westminster, 1959.

Physical Description

Consists of close helmet, breastplate and tassets, backplate, gorget, pauldrons, vambraces, cuisses, and greaves. The close helmet has a one piece skull with a roped comb, and is pierced at either side with a circle of holes for hearing. The visor has two sights and a lifting peg at the right. The upper bevor has a group of breaths arranged in a circle at the right. The rear pair of gorget plates survive but the front ones are missing. The helmet has a wrapper fitted with two gorget plates, secured by a strap and buckle passing round the neck and covering the whole of the left side of the upper bevor and part of the right. The gorget has two neck lames and the rear main plate is of poorer quality and associated. The peascod breastplate has moveable gussets at the arms. It is of the right form for the armour but does not belong, as it is a plain breastplate etched to match the rest of the armour by the 19th century restorer. The backplate is also a plain piece etched to match, and is German, about 1540. To the breastplate is fitted two fauld plates and tassets formed of eight narrow lames. The pauldrons are full, the right one reduced at the front for the lance and the left one pierced for the bolt of a reinforcing plate. It has been reduced in width and new turns added at the edges. the lower three lames of the left pauldron are associated. The upper cannons of the vambraces have turners, and the couters are of bracelet form. The gauntlets are fingered, with wide, pointed cuffs, and are from an armour of about 1620. The fingers and thumb defences are plain. The cuisses have articulating lames at the top, but only the right one is original, the left cuisse and poleyn being restored. There are three quarter greaves ending at the ankle. The back of the left greave is associated, and has a riveted repair at the top. The armour is etched and gilt with broad vertical bands and borders of stylised foliage on a granulated ground, the bands edged with rows of arcades with a pointed projection where the arcades join. The gauntlets have an overall pattern of scrolling foliage on a granulated ground, and retain faint traces of gilding.

Inscriptions and Marks

No marks.

Associations

Places Italy

Notes

A tilting cuirass, arm defences and saddle closely resembling this armour are in the Armeria Reale, Turin, and a second cuirass in the Metropolitan Museum, New York. Another helmet is in the Higgins Armory Museum, Worcester, and a burgonet and locking gauntlet were in the Morgan Williams collection, sold Christies with matching burgonet 26 May 1921, lots 276 and 177, the locking gauntlet in the Lockett collection, sold Christies 12 June 1942, lot 286, Dr Richard Williams collection, 1974, RA III.1407. A boot stirrup also belonging is RA VI.348, presented by F H Cripps-Day. The gauntlets are similar to an armour of which there is a close helmet, breastplate, backplate and the back of a the gorget in the Musee de l'Armee, Paris, Po.584, 1416, 2759, three lames from the upper right tasset in the Museo Stibbert, Florence (cat. no. 3266), and other elements in the Wallace Collection, no. A64). See A V B Norman Amendments and additions to the catalogue of armour in the Wallace Collection, London, JAAS VII.7/8, 1972: 190. The backplate and rear of the gorget were sold from an anonymous English collection, Gallerie Helbing, Munich, 10 November 1908 lot 17, pl. 3. A complete armour of similar design is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, no. 27.177.1, with shaffron and saddle steels in the Musee de l'Armee, Paris no. G577, on which the strapwork is plain and the background less crowded than the RA examples. Notes by I D D Eaves, 1980. The armour was formerly on loan to Caernarvon Castle.