The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
  • Gorget
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • France, probably
  • c. 1610
  • Iron or steel and copper alloy, etched and gilt
  • Weight: 0.89 kg
  • A236
  • European Armoury III
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Gorget, of two single plates (front and back), pivoted on the left shoulder and fastened on the right with a keyhole slot. The upper and lower edges plain, turned over on a wire and bordered with brass-headed rivets for the lining straps. Decorated all over with bands containing scrolled foliage, involving grotesque heads, sea monsters and trophies of arms; an oval panel in the centre shows Mars, and, on the back, Hercules (with club and lion skin, but beardless), encircled by a band of laurel leaves at the top and bottom; the decoration is in very low relief, the background being sunk, and the whole entirely gilt.

    A gorget of this description was not intended to be worn with other body armour, but with a quilted or buff coat; see also nos. A234, 237-8.

    The style of the decoration, in which the motifs are outlined by a thin strip of metal left in relief when the metal on either side is etched away suggests that this piece is French rather than Italian. J.-P. Reverseau has named this type of decoration 'glorious motifs' (aux motifs glorieux) and has dated its appearance from 1580-1610 (in Held, Art, Arms and Armour, I, 1979. pp. 217-19).
    A comparable gorget with similar etching is in the Musée de l' Armée, Paris (G246).