The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Parts of an armour
  • Parts of an armour
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Milan, Italy
  • c. 1585
  • Steel, gold and leather, etched, embossed, chased, and gilt
  • Weight: 1.8 kg, breastplate
    Weight: 1.26 kg, backplate
    Weight: 0.93 kg, pauldron (left)
    Weight: 1.29 kg, pauldron (right)
    Weight: 1.72 kg, shaffron
    Weight: 1.15 kg, manifer
  • A58
  • European Armoury II
Commentary
History
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • These pieces belong to a garniture probably made for Marco III Pio di Savoia, Duke of Ginestra and Lord of Sassuolo (d. 1599). The Pio di Savoia were an ancient Italian noble family, rulers of the city of Carpi, a number of members of which were distinguished military commanders, diplomats and men of the church.

    The cuirass and pauldrons of this group are designed for tournament combat on foot at the barriers, while the jousting gauntlet for the left hand comes from a completely different armour. The shaffron appears to be a modern fake. At 1.8 kg the breastplate is much lighter than that for a field armour of this period. This light weight is typical of cuirasses intended purely for dismounted combat at the barriers, fought with spears and swords. This barrier combat role is also indicated by the absence of the means to attach a lance-rest.

    In the centre of the very fine backplate, decorated in the typical Italian manner of the late 16th century, are the arms of the Pio di Savoia enhanced with those of Farnese. Within the etched and gilt bands on either side of the central band are cartouches containing Judith bearing the head of Holophernes and the allegorical figure of Fame, winged and carrying a trumpet.

    This fine but lightly built armour would not have saved its original owner when he was attacked in Modena by assassins armed with harquebuses. Shot seven times, Marco III managed to survive for another seventeen days in terrible agony before dying at the age of just 32.