- Innsbruck, Germany
- Medium-carbon steel, leather, silk, straw and canvas, etched and embossed
- Weight: 14.97 kg
- Inscription: '1549'
Inscription: 'S' possiby conjoined with a reversed letter c
- European Armoury III
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- Without question the best-preserved saddle in the Wallace Collection, and in an extraordinary state of preservation. All of its original and essential parts survive including the fine padded seat, bolsters and skirts, made of undyed, oil-tanned buff leather, and the integral stuffed linen pad. The latter allowed the saddle to be placed directly onto the horse’s back, without any need for a separate pad or saddle blanket. Saddles almost never survive in such a good state, since all of the materials used to make them are organic and therefore highly perishable.
It is now impossible to identify the saddlers who made the wood (probably beech) tree and upholstery. However the armour plates fitted to the saddle’s front and rear arçons are most likely the work of Jörg Seusenhofer, the son of the great Konrad, Court Armourer to the Emperor Maximilian I. This saddle belongs to an armour which was probably made for a member of the Schurff family of Vellenberg, near Innsbruck, where Jörg had his workshop. The Schurffs were a high-ranking Austrian noble family, who held the German Imperial office of Hereditary Chief Huntsman of Tyrol. Their badge was the fire-steel or fire-striker, a device most famously used by the Dukes of Burgundy but which was used independently by the Schurff family perhaps in homage to their masters, the Habsburg Holy Roman Emperors, who had inherited the Ducal titles of Burgundy. The Schurff fire-steel, which lacks the symbols associated with the Burgundian version (the flints throwing off tongues of flame and the Burgundian saltire), features very prominently in the centre of the front plate of the saddle, along with the date 1549. The same date also appears on the armour to which the saddle belongs, now in the collection of the Royal Armouries, Leeds (Inv. II.169).