The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
  • Burgonet
  • Attributed to Caremolo Modrone (1489 - 1543)
  • Milan, Italy
  • c. 1540
  • Low-carbon steel, extensively hot-worked, and gold, embossed and russeted
  • Weight: 2.4 kg
  • A108
  • European Armoury I
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Parade burgonet of embossed steel, the surface russeted, with traces of gilding. The skull has a scaled ridge, and the front is embossed in low relief with a grotesque, bearded mask, from whose mouth extend two stalks ending in scrolled acanthus leaves and conventional flowers; hinged ear-pieces embossed with masks (the left ear-piece has been patched and is without gilding and appears to be a later replacement). A small peg on the right cheek-piece is probably for the attachment of a buff. Crest-holes in the ridge, one on either side, and two pairs of twin-holes at the back for a plume-holder. At the base is a row of rivets for the attachment of the lining, and two rivets on the ear-pieces for a chin-strap. Beneath the peak, in front, an additional band with a roped edge has been applied.

    The decoration of this helmet is especially lively, the embossing well controlled and of excellent workmanship. C.Blair (1974, No. l, p. 27) attributed it to Caremolo Modrone of Mantua and gave a list of other pieces attributable to him.
    J. F. Hayward (Waffen- und Kostümkunde, 1982, pp. 1-15 and 87-102) has drawn attention to a certain similarity between some of the embossed armours attributed to Caremolo Modrone of Mantua, for instance that of Carlo Bozzolo di Gonzaga (died 1551) at Vienna (Waffensammlung, Inv. No. A632), and the drawings of Filippo Orsoni or Ursoni, the Mantuan painter, whose design book survives in two versions; one dated 1554 in the Victoria and Albert Museum (Murray 7A; Nos. E.I 725 to 2031-1929), and the other, dated on different pages 1540, 1558 and 1559, in the Herzog August Bibliothek, Wolfenbüttel (Cod. Guelf 1.5.3. Aug 2°). Among the pieces which Hayward attributes to Modrone, possibly based on designs by Orsoni, are the Wallace Collection burgonet A108, and the shaffron A353, and, perhaps with less conviction, the group of Farnese guard burgonets such as A112. A108 is paralleled quite closely by one of the Orsoni drawings in the Victoria and Albert Museum (No. E. 1780-1929; Hayward, Armour, 1951, p. 45, PI. 19).
    Caremolo Modrone (or di Mondrone), the court armourer of the Dukes of Mantua, was born in Milan in 1489. He worked principally for Federigo Gonzaga, from 1521, making personal and munition armours, but he also carried out commissions for the Emperor Charles V and for Alfonso d'Avalos, marchese del Vasto. Of two armours made by him for Charles V, the first, presented in 1534, is still in the Real Armeria, Madrid (No. A112); the second, delivered in 1536, is believed to be No. A114 at Madrid. Modrone died in Mantua in 1543. Of Filippo Orsoni, the Mantuan painter, very little is known except from his own statements on the title pages of his two surviving design books. He is, however, recorded as living in the Mantuan district of Rupe in 1559. The devices used to decorate his armours include those of Charles V and Henri II of France, indicating his aspirations if not his actual achievements. A.V.B. Norman suggested that the very restrained and elegant embossing of A108 seemed to resemble more closely that on the armour 'de los mascarones relevados', made for Charles V by the brothers Filippo and Francesco Negroli in 1539 (Madrid, Real Armeria, No. A139), although less crisply rendered, rather than the relatively crude and pedestrian embossing of A112 at Madrid, and of the armour of Carlo Bozzolo di Gonzaga at Vienna.