The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Partial armour
  • Partial armour
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Nuremberg, Germany
  • c. 1570
  • Iron or steel, copper alloy, leather, embossed and painted
  • Weight: 8.55 kg, total weight
  • Mark: Nuremberg guild mark Stamped
  • A42
  • European Armoury III
Commentary
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • As well as straight bands and borders polished white, some black and white armours also display figurative decoration often embossed proud of the surrounding surface rather than recessed into it. Worn by men of all ranks, black and white armours vary significantly in quality and in their levels and types of decoration. Very ornate examples of a type characteristic of the work of Innsbruck armourers can be embossed with dense foliage polished bright, and often include grotesque masks on the shoulders and cod-piece, with details such as the eyes and mouth picked out in red paint. Figurative ornament on good-quality black and white armour takes the form of stylised lilies, tongues of flame, scales, and/or foliage. The overall visual impression can be strongly reminiscent of silver embroidery on black silk or velvet.

    The striking thing about this armour is that it is without question the lowest-quality of the three black and white armours in the Wallace Collection, and yet it carries the most flamboyant decorative scheme. The work on this example is very rough, the turned edges being for example very uneven, the embossing almost rude. At the same time, the decoration remains quite impressive and eye-catching, especially when the armour is glimpsed from a distance. From more than a few metres away, the roughness of the work is not obvious, while the flamboyance of the decoration certainly is.

    Unlike A40 and A41, this armour includes the form of ubiquitous 16th-century helmet called a morion. Morions were worn by infantrymen, officers and light horsemen instead of the burgonet according to regional custom and preference.