The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
  • Sallet
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Milan, Italy
  • c. 1500
  • Medium-carbon steel, embossed and etched
  • Height: 20.3 cm
    Circumference: 63.5 cm, at base
    Weight: 1.325 kg
  • A73
  • European Armoury I
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • In its shape and proportions this Italian sallet shows foreign stylistic influence. Throughout the 15th century Italian sallets had been drawn down to almost touch the shoulders of the wearer, and had only a very subtle recurving tail at the nape of the neck. West European and German sallets in contrast only extended to the level of the jaw and included a longer swept tail. As noted in reference to Wallace Collection A71 and A72, by the last decade of the 15th century Italian armourers had adopted the foreign style and created their own distinctive interpretations of it. This example is quite typical, having a one-piece pivoted tail and narrow, oblong brow reinforce. It appears to one have had some kind of a visor, since the sides of the skull are pierced for visor pivots, and the tail-plate exhibits a shaped recess on both sides to receive the lower corners of the visor, in a similar manner as that exemplified by A72.

    A crucial new aspect of this sallet, however, an aspect not observed on Italian helmets before 1500 is the fluting and etching. The fluting of the skull, like the basic form, is the result of foreign (in this case specifically Germanic) influence. Armour of the so-called 'Maximilian' style, characterised by dense groups of parallel flutes, was quickly becoming the prevailing fashion throughout the German Empire and interest in the new designs extended well beyond its borders. The fact that this helmet almost certainly dates from the first decade of the 16th century also makes it a very early instance of acid-etched decoration, here in the form of bands filled with scrolling foliage against a hatched ground.