The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Close-helmet
  • Close-helmet
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Nuremberg, Germany
  • c. 1530
  • Steel, copper alloy, leather and canvas, etched, fluted and roped
  • Weight: 3.36 kg
  • A158
  • European Armoury I
Commentary
History
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Although the Maximilian style was introduced by Imperial court armourers working in Augsburg and Innsbruck, it was in Nuremberg that the vast majority of pieces in this style were made. Many Nuremberg craftsmen made low- or medium-grade armour in vast quantities, although higher-quality equipment for wealthy patrons was also made there.

    This beautifully sculpted close-helmet exemplifies the best Nuremberg work. Although this example is not marked, several other helmets carrying marks and clearly by the same master, survive in other collections. Three of these, two in the Musée de l’Armée, Paris (inv. nos. H.66 and H.79) and one in the Royal Armouries, Leeds (IV.501), carry the ‘pearled N’, a Nuremberg quality mark.

    The visor of this piece is one of only a few known specimens embossed in the German ‘vernacular’ style incorporating human or animal masks. Such visors were worn on a variety of ceremonial and festive occasions. Comparable works are the fox visor for an armet made for the Emperor Ferdinand I by Hans Seusenhofer between 1526 and 1529 (Hofjagd -und Rüstkammer, Vienna A461) and another armet in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (29.150.3) which has a visor skilfully formed into the head of a cockerel, wattles and all. Like other surviving animal mask visors made in South Germany around the same time, the Wallace Collection helmet represents its subject, in this case an eagle’s head, through an impressive demonstration of steel embossing. The sculpted head is further embellished with delicately-etched plumage and detailing and with two original copper alloy rivets forming the eagle’s eyes.