The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Close-helmet
  • Close-helmet
  • Attributed to Anton Peffenhauser (c. 1525 - 1603) , Armourer
  • Germany, Augsburg
  • c. 1575
  • Iron or steel, gold and copper alloy, etched and gilt
  • Weight: 3.35 kg
  • A187
  • European Armoury II
Commentary
History
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • This helmet is one of a trio of pieces in the Wallace Collection (along with pauldron A242 and vamplate A343) which were once part of a double garniture thought to have been made for the sons of Emperor Maximilian II, Archduke (later Emperor) Matthias (1557-1619) and Maximilian III, Archduke of Austria (1558-1618). The Wallace Collection group is comprised of this piece, a close-helmet for the Freiturnier or ‘free tourney’, a right pauldron for the joust (A242), and a lance vamplate (A343), which could be used in both of these contests. The Freiturnier was a descendant of the large-scale tournaments of the High Middle Ages, in which two teams of knights first charged each other with lances, in what was effectively a mass-joust, the initial encounter being quickly followed by a melée with clubs and swords. The close-helmet’s specific tournament function is evidenced by holes on either side of the brow. Bolts threaded into these holes would have secured a reinforcing plate for the tourney. The upper visor also includes a threaded hole for the attachment of the wrapper, or reinforcing bevor, a standard component in the Freiturnier.

    The decorative scheme, though not especially original or distinctive, has been skilfully executed and communicates a suitably rich visual effect. The surfaces of the plates are divided by wide strapwork bands filled with trophies of arms and musical instruments on a finely stippled and blackened ground and framed by narrow gilt borders containing delicate scrollwork. Some parts, such as the visor of the helmet, are edged with narrower bands etched with scrolls and arabesques of the typical South German style.

    The majority of this double garniture is today in Vienna (Inv. A437, A880, B40, B41) with other parts in Paris (H99, H100, K721, K742), Leeds (III.1264) and Chicago (1819). Parts of other very similar garnitures can be seen in Dresden, St Petersburg, New York and Philadelphia.