The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Cuisse, greave and integral sabaton
  • Cuisse, greave and integral sabaton
  • Probably Konrad Seusenhofer (c. 1465 - 1517)
  • Innsbruck, Germany
  • 1511
  • Steel and gold, etched and gilded
  • Weight: 1.57 kg
  • A285
  • European Armoury I
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Along with the armet A154, this leg defence and its mate A286 are almost all that is left of a once spectacular armour of the German Emperor Maximilian I (1459- 1519). The only other surviving piece is a gauntlet, bearing the date ‘1511’, in Abbotsford in Scotland, part of the collection formed by Sir Walter Scott in the early nineteenth century. The armour was the work of Konrad Seusenhofer, Maximilian’s court armourer and master of his famous workshop at Innsbruck. The pieces are decorated with acid-etching, an early instance of this form of armour decoration. The technique involved an acid-proof coating being applied to the metal. The ornamental pattern was then scratched into the surface of this coating with a sharp, needle-like graving tool. When acid was then applied, this scratched-out pattern was eaten or ‘bitten’ into the metal. To enrich the etched bands even further, they were then fire-gilded, making them stand boldly out against the polished steel. The etched bands contain scrolling foliage and pomegranates. The pomegranate was one of Maximilian’s personal devices; many of his portraits show him holding one of these seed-filled fruits, a symbol of the suffering and resurrection of Jesus, the husk as it splits reveals the red droplets inside-an immediate reminder of the Passion.

    Maximilian was a great armour-enthusiast. He worked closely with his court armourers to create new, ground-breaking armour designs. He had many armours, for war, jousts, tournaments and parades, including several others in a very similar style to the one to which these pieces once belonged. Parts of another of these armours, the leg armour, vambraces, and gauntlets, now are incorporated into a composite armour at Vienna (Inv. No. A110), while Maximilian is depicted wearing similar armours in numerous printed portraits and on the kneeling figure that surmounts his cenotaph at Innsbruck (c. 1555-65). A similar helmet, attributed to Konrad Seusenhofer, is in the Victoria and Albert Museum (M2708-1931).