The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Close-helmet
  • Close-helmet
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Germany
  • c. 1530
  • Iron or steel, embossed and etched
  • Weight: 3.15 kg
  • A162
  • European Armoury II
Commentary
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Close-helmet, having a low, globular skull embossed with five combs puffed and slashed and pierced by two pairs of holes behind the ears for laces securing the internal cross-straps (now missing). It is also etched with alternate bands of candelabra-ornament and of floral scrolls. The visor in one piece, of bellows form, with two narrow apertures for the sight and eight horizontal slits on each side of double key-hole shape along the four ridges; on the right side is a spring-catch and the left lower edge is doubly notched, presumably to engage the visor-prop; a hole for pivoting this is in the chin-piece below. The lower edge of the visor is etched with flowers, rows of disks threaded on a central cord, and various kinds of scale-work. The chin-piece is of the general form typically found on German close-helmets of this period, but, unusually, it is hinged on the left side in the manner of a contemporary armet, and is fastened by means of a spring-catch with projecting flat-headed knob on the right side of the skull; the lower edge, like that of the skull, is slashed and hollowed to fit over a gorget; the borders are etched with bands of conventional flowers; round-headed rivets for the lining straps, parts of which remain.

    The visor, chin-piece and skull show numerous repairs and the etched decoration is much rubbed. Each of the rivets around the neck is surrounded by a circle of petals so that it appears to be the centre of a cinquefoil. A lifting-peg is presumably missing from one of the holes on the right of the visor. Compare with the close-helmets A156-7; the latter is of somewhat similar workmanship.

    A chin-piece hinged on one side is rare (see also Musée de l' Armée, No. G 5). This construction is found only on a small group of German close-helmets, the earliest of which is one made for the Emperor Maximilian I, probably made in 1492, by Lorenz Helmschmid of Augsburg (Hofjagd -und Rüstkammer, Vienna, inv. no. A79; Thomas & Gamber, Katalog der Leibrustkammer, I, 1976, pp. 111-13). The etching on the Wallace Collection example is of a rather unusual type. The motifs are outlined with a fairly broad line and the ground is not recessed.

    This helmet is exhibited with the puffed and slashed armour, No. A28, which, though appropriate, does not belong to it.