The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
  • Armet
  • Workshop of Kolman Helmschmid (1470 - 1532) , Armourer , Possibly
  • Workshop of Daniel Hopfer (1470 - 1536), Etcher, Possibly
  • Germany, possibly Augsburg
  • c. 1530- c. 1540
  • Steel and paint, etched
  • Weight: 2.65 kg
  • A165
  • European Armoury I
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • The Helmschmid family were defined as armourer-artists by their highly original designs and constructions. Their work usually displays a startling level of mechanical precision, combined with an utterly natural and intuitive feel for aesthetics. This fusion of engineering and artistry makes pieces by the Helmschmids stand out as exceptional amongst the works of even the best of their contemporaries.

    This armet, the design of which may be unique, is everything one would expect from a Helmschmid piece. The cheek-pieces are cut very low around the face, so that the wearer’s chin would protrude beyond them. The visor has then been extended downward, the base being carefully sculpted to envelope the exposed chin. Although no other helmet displaying this construction survives, something very similar is illustrated in the famous ‘Thun sketchbook’, an album of heterogeneous sixteenth- and seventeenth-century armourer’s drawings, the majority of which depict the work, both preserved and lost, of the Helmschmids.

    The technical distinction and high quality of this helmet suggest that it may therefore be a previously unrecognised work by Kolman or Desiderius Helmschmid, or one of their relatives. It certainly is etched in the style of Daniel Hopfer, the master etcher who worked closely with the Helmschmids. The key elements of the etched decoration –the ‘wolf’s teeth’ borders, the extremely fine stippled grounds, the spray of foliage at the brow, the beasts with the heads of human females, complete with contemporary headwear, are all characteristic of Hopfer and his followers.