The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
  • Morion
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Milan, Italy
  • c. 1570
  • Iron or steel, gold and silver, engraved, counterfeit damascened and embossed
  • Height: 29.2 cm
    Weight: 1.16 kg
  • A133
  • European Armoury II
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Morion, having a high pear-shaped skull in the 'Spanish' style, with a stalk at its apex, decorated with acanthus. The embossed design on the right side is now thought to represent the Conversion of St. Paul on the road to Damascus -fallen from his horse with the almighty in the heavens- rather than the Conversion of the Emperor Constantine. The design of St. Paul is apparently based in reverse either on an engraving by Etienne Delaune, or on the copy by Mario Cataro published in Rome in 1567. The design on the left side was also thought to be from the life of Constantine: showing Constantine a meeting of soldiers with the Emperor in the background, though due to the re-attribution of the scene on the right, the scene on the left is now obscure. The surface is incised and counterfeit-damascened in gold and silver, the figures enriched with diapers, scales and scrolls in gold, the horses with short lines to render their coats (see also inv. nos. A120, A133, A328).

    Parts of the decoration have probably been reworked; the cloak of the bearer of the blank standard has some gold dots where it should have silver ones. The brim is peaked front and rear, and embossed with gadroons like A120. Scrolled and gilt plume-holder at the back engraved with a trophy. Chin-strap of three lames on each side, embossed and damascened with trophies. The earpieces are nineteenth-century additions, that on the right was newly made, while that on the left, although old, does not match. It comes from a child's embossed morion in the style of Lucio Piccinino of Milan, possibly from the morion No. B5 in the Real Armeria, Madrid, which belonged to Philip III of Spain, and which is illustrated by Justus Tiel in his 'Allegory of the Education of Philip III', in the Prado, Madrid (Grancsay, Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s. XXII, pp. 257-71, Fig. 15). A round target based on the same engraving but in the correct sense is in the Metropolitan Museum, New York (No. 25.163.1; exhibited The Art of Chivalry, 1982, no. 17, where the source is identified). A second round target in the Armeria Reale at Turin is also based in part on one of these engravings but also in reverse (inv. no. F21; Mazini, 1982, No. 104).

    This helmet has been described as coming from the Casa Gonzaga at Mantua. It appears twice in the drawings by Dassi of the Uboldo Collection in the Castello Sforzcesco in Milan, and it also appears held by Uboldo's small son, in the frontispiece to the drawings. This morion was exhibited with the embossed half-armour, Wallace Collection A51, but does not belong to it.