The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Sallet
  • Sallet
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • North Italy
  • c. 1500 - c. 1520
  • Iron or steel
  • Height: 26.4 cm, to crest hole
    Weight: 3.25 kg
  • A72
  • European Armoury I
Commentary
History
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • For most of its history, the visored sallet had only partially protected the face, generally extending to just below the nose. When full facial protection was required, the sallet was worn with a bevor, which covered the neck and lower face and which was overlapped by the sallet’s lower edge. The bevor was however somewhat restrictive, of both head movement and respiration, and therefore was often left off. This was the sallet’s essential weakness- although in many respects it was a versatile, all-purpose helmet, it could not offer fully reliable facial defence. Even when worn with a bevor, a critical point of weakness yet remained along the juncture between the upper edge of the bevor and the lower edge of the sallet. Even a moderately powerful thrust, delivered with any sort of stabbing weapon, could push through the gap between the plates to pierce the face of the man inside.

    It was not until the last decade of the fifteenth century that sallet visors began to be extended to cover the whole face with a single metal plate. Italian armourers followed this trend, making sallets with full visors for a short period in the early sixteenth century. This helmet is one of the best surviving examples, remaining complete with its distinctive ‘bellows’ visor. It compares very well to one depicted in a portrait (c. 1505-10; Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Inv. 1890 no. 911) probably of Bartolomeo d’Alviano, a Venetian military commander who defeated the forces of the Emperor Maximilian at the Battle of Cadore (1508); the portrait also includes the subject’s squire, who wears the bevor belonging with his master’s helmet. Like the German versions, this late bevor is cut high at the sides, but lower around the base of the chin.