The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Full armour
  • Full armour
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Nuremberg, Germany
  • c. 1612 and 19th century
  • Low-carbon steel, fluted and pierced
  • Weight: 29.845 kg, total weight
  • Mark: Nuremberg guild marks
    Stamp: A cross between four charges
    Mark: Imperial double-headed eagle
  • A26
  • European Armoury II
Commentary
History
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • The later reproduction of Renaissance-style armour appears not to have been entirely a phenomenon of the modern world from the 19th century onwards. This curious armour is composed of pieces made in the German style of c. 1510-30. However, none of these parts was made in the early 16th century.

    Although this armour does give the general impression of a fine harness in the fluted ‘Maximilian’ style, on closer examination its construction and configuration is not entirely accurate. For example, the thick roping around the neck gives the impression of a close-helmet designed to turn on the gorget, and yet it also carries pendant single neck lames front and rear. The two-part construction of the breastplate, while not absolutely inaccurate for the early 16th century, is highly atypical. Most of the fluting also much sharper than that found on most genuine Maximilian-style pieces.

    The vambraces look especially unlike early –mid 16th-century work. In fact, their large, gutter-like character and small couter wings are quite reminiscent of the vambraces of 17th-century cuirassier (heavy cavalry) armours.

    Interestingly, the backplate of a cuirass in the same style now in the Royal Armouries (III.1288-9), belonging to the same group as this armour, is dated 1612. Like the rest of the members of the group, it also carries the city and control marks of the great south German armour-making city of Nuremberg. In 1612, significantly, the Holy Roman Emperor Matthias made an official visit to Nuremberg, shortly after his coronation. It has been suggested that this group of 17th-century armours, in the 16th-century style, were made specially for an honour guard of city officials welcoming the new Emperor to their city. Their choice to replicate an antiquated style of armour might therefore have been motivated by a desire to evoke the great age of Nuremberg in the early sixteenth century, the home of Albrecht Dürer, the heart of the German Renaissance.

    Beyond the core elements made in the 17th century, the armour has been completed by 19th-century additions, noteably the plates at the backs of the knees, the articulation plates between the gorget and shoulder-caps, and the spurs.