The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Partial armour
  • Partial armour
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • France or Netherlands
  • c. 1610
  • Low-carbon steel, air-cooled, gold, silver, silk, tow, canvas, leather, braid and copper alloy, incised, embossed, painted and gilt
  • Weight: 23.085 kg, total weight
  • A68
  • European Armoury II
Commentary
History
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Dating from the twilight of the age of plate armour, this partial harness was made with one dominant purpose– protection from firearms. Although it is compromised only of a cap-like morion, cuirass and shoulder defences, this assembly weighs an impressive 23 kg, as much as a complete head-to-toe armour of the fifteenth century. Each of the pieces was intended to be bullet-proof; the steel is quite thick, bringing this armour close to the practical weight ceiling. The cuirass alone weighs nearly 10 kg, and the round shield or target, also ‘of proof’ is a substantial 8 kg all on its own. Strangely, and certainly atypically, the backplate of this armour is noticeably heavier than the breastplate.

    This armour is decorated with eye-catching vertical ‘stripes’ formed of pairs of incised lines. Surviving traces of fire-gilding on the helmet and left side of the breastplate indicates that these stripes were all originally gilded, standing out brightly against the polished steel.