The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
  • Cuirass
  • Imitator of Daniel Hopfer (1470 - 1536) , Etcher
  • Imitator of Daniel Hopfer (1470 - 1536), Etcher
  • Germany
  • 1523
  • Steel, fluted and etched
  • Weight: 3.37 kg, breastplate
    Weight: 0.99 kg, left tasset
    Weight: 0.97 kg, right tasset
    Weight: 2.36 kg, backplate
  • A210
  • European Armoury I
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Cuirass and tassets, consisting of: breastplate of globose form heavily roped at the neck and gussets, fluted in pairs, the surface between each pair etched with a vigorous design of birds, grotesque figures, musical emblems, masks and scrolls of roses and thistles on a granular ground; the sacred initials I · H · S are inscribed on the frieze at the top. The breastplate overlaps the waist-plate to which is attached a skirt of four lames. The top lame of the skirt is pierced at each end by a key-hole slot by which the rear skirt was formerly attached; tassets, of eight plates of like decoration. On the bottom plate of the left tasset is a nude figure with a spear and buckler, on the right one a like figure with a falchion and shield. There is a buckle and strap on the inner side for attachment round the thighs; backplate with single skirt plate, with four bands of etching depicting 1) a putto with bow and arrow, and the number XXIII in a tablet below; 2) Hercules wrestling with Antaeus; 3) Hercules strangling the Nemaean Lion; 4) a nude female figure with a spear and shield. The backplate has been extended on each side by a strip of steel to make room for the owner's expanding girth.

    The etching contains motifs which appear in the prints of Daniel and Lambert Hopfer, and has been discussed at length in the Proceedings of the British Academy, XXVII, 1942, Pl. II. The etching is however not by the Hopfers themselves, but rather a follower or imitator.
    The numerals XII (indicating the date 1523) also occur on an armour with similar etching in the Metropolitan Museum, New York (Grancsay, Met. Mus. Bulletin, XXXV , 1939, p. 192), while the numerals XXIII are on the fluted armour, similarly etched, of Otto Heinrich, Count Palatine, at Vienna (A239; Thomas & Gamber, Katalog der Leibrüstkammer, I, 1976, pp. 223-4; made by Lorenz Helmschmid, 1516) and on a saddle at Warwick Castle (Mann, Z.H.W.K., XV, p. 52).
    The etching of this group is vigorous and strong, involving cornucopias, birds and grotesque beasts among foliage on a granulated ground, and among its characteristics recur snub-nosed cherubs and harpies in profile, fluted globes, and an archer (after Hopfer). A breast- and back-plate, formerly in the Zouche Collection, etched with figures of the Virgin and Child between St. George and St. Christopher, with St. Roch and St. Sebastian on the back, later acquired by the Metropolitan Museum, New York, is of particular interest as the St. Sebastian is copied from a contemporary woodcut by Hans Baldung while the borders are etched in the style under discussion. Other members of the group are the armours of Wolfgang von Anhalt and Georg Frundsberg (1475-1528) at Vienna (Grosz & Thomas, I, 49 and 117); the Radziwill slashed breastplate formerly at Berlin, and now at Warsaw; a fluted armour in the Musée de l' Armée, No. G 31; and numerous others. A breastplate of very similar design is in the collection of Sir James Mann. In this case the fluting is triple, not in pairs, and the etching, like that on Otto Heinrich's armour, has a plain ground.
    The connection with Hopfer was first suggested by Dr. Paul Post in a study of the armour of Friedrich von Liegnitz at Berlin (Jahrbuch der Preuss. Kunstsammlungen, XLIX) where he identified motifs taken from the Hopfers' prints, but in that case the ground is hatched, not granulated.
    The only signed example of etching by Daniel Hopfer on armour is the trellised targe for the joust in the German fashion at Madrid (A57), dated 1526, the last year of his life.