The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
  • Saddle
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Germany
  • c. 1440 - 1460
  • Wood, antler, birch bark, leather and wax, carved, incised, stained and polished
  • Length: 100 cm, overall
    Weight: 3 kg
  • A408
  • European Armoury I
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Saddle, similar in form to A407, having a high bow or pommel terminating in a scroll, the cantle formed by two upward-curving semi-circular plates. There are traces of three pairs of holes and two single holes on each side for the attachment of the pad, breast-strap, and crupper. Constructed of wood faced with plaques of polished and incised antler. The red, green and black colouring is inlaid hard wax. It is hatched and carved in low-relief with the figures of a woman and a man in the civilian dress of the mid- fifteenth century (below the cantel the figures are repeated with varied composition; the male and female figures being transposed); they hold the ends of scrolls which bear the following inscription (the free translation is that given by Sir Samuel Rush Meyrick):

    Left Side
    The Woman speaks:
    ich · pin · bie 'I am here, I know not how',
    ich · wans · nit · wie
    ich · var · von · v. 'I go hence, I know not where',
    ich · wans · nit · wan
    nu · wol · auf
    mit · willen · unvergessen 'Well a day! willingly thou art never forgotten'

    The Man speaks:
    ich · frei · mich . all 'I rejoice to be ever thine'.
    zeit · dein

    (Obviously the answer to the question below)

    Right Side - The Man speaks:
    ich · var · ich · bar 'I go, I stop, the longer I stop'
    ye · lenger · ich · bar
    me · greffer · nar 'The more mad I become',
    dein · ewichleich 'Thine for ever',
    land · ierigen · varn 'The world o'er your betrothed',

    The Woman speaks:
    me · den · krg (?) · ent 'But if the war should end?'

    The underside of this saddle is covered, like A407, with birch bark and leather, the former being frequently used for lining saddles of this type. It has been restored, and many of the lining or trapping holes have been covered in the process.

    For an account of the class of saddle covered with engraved antler, see J. von Schlosser, Jahrbuch der Kunsthistorischen Sammlungen der a.h. Kaiserhauses in Wien, XV (1894), p. 260

    Two of the finest saddles of this kind are those in the museum at Modena and in the Metropolitan Museum, New York, the latter coming from the Trivulzio family of Milan.

    A saddle of the like shape and material is in the Royal Armouries (VI.95; illustrated in Dufty and Reid, 1968, pl. CLII.). This saddle appears to have been a gift from the Holy Roman Emperor Sigismund to King Henry V of England, presented during the Imperial visit to England in 1416.
    The comparable Körmend saddle (Von Schlosser, op. cit., no. 15) was sold at Sotheby's, 17 April 1969, lot 6, repr. in cat., and is now in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (J. F. Hayward, 'A fifteenth century carved bone saddle', Auction, I, No. 7, New York, March 1969, pp. 22-3). Schlosser, nos. 11 and 16 are both now in the Metropolitan Museum, New York, respectively nos. 04.3.249 and 40.66. A third example not in Schlosser is also in that museum (no. 36.149.11).