The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Close-helmet
  • Close-helmet
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • France
  • c. 1590
  • Steel, copper alloy and textile, etched
  • Height: 30.9 cm
    Weight: 2.38 kg
  • Decoration: At intervals a monogram formed of nine letters 'CTEBMNTRC' is introduced.
  • A173
  • European Armoury III
Commentary
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Close-helmet, of the typically French style of the late sixteenth century, with a skull made in two halves joined at the comb, the sides of which are nearly vertical. It has a roped edge, and is roughly pierced with eight holes, possibly for the attachment of a plume. The comb shows traces of repair by brazing. At the back is a rough, steel plume-holder. Around the base is a row of modern, brass-headed lining-band rivets, the flush rivets for the same purpose running over the forehead being of copper. Part of the lining band remains.
    The visor's single, wide sight has been enlarged beyond its original width. On the right side of the visor is a turned peg for raising (this is modern, as are the visor-pivots). The upper bevor has been notched to take the lifting-peg, and it carries on the right side an eye to engage the hook on the lower bevor. The latter is secured to the skull by a strap and buckle; the hook to fasten the bevor is missing. The top edge of the upper bevor is rolled outwards over wire to form a stop-rib, partly broken away near the point and crudely replaced.

    The ground of the etching in the narrow bands is cross-hatched. Narrow bands of interlacing riband ornament border the lower edges of the rear gorget-plate, and the upper edges of both the upper bevor and the sight.
    The helmet was originally completed by triple gorget-plates; two of those at the back remain, but on the front only one. The lower of the two at the back has been patched on the left side with a plate cut from a piece of etched and gilt Milanese armour of another style.
    The etched decoration, which covers the whole surface, consists of broad and narrow bands, the former filled with freely flowing scroll foliage, the tendrils ending in dolphins, human heads and monsters. At intervals is introduced a monogram of the nine letters: CTEBMNTRC. Owing to the interlacing of the letters the correct sequence is uncertain. The narrow bands are lightly etched with running foliage, and on the comb with a mask and bound captives. The edges of most of the plates are bordered by narrow bands of interlacing riband ornament.

    Although now in a damaged condition, this helmet is of fine form, and the etching on the broader bands especially is of good quality and design. It was probably originally gilt overall and intended for parade use.