The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
  • Stirrup
  • Probably Pompeo della Cesa (c. 1537-8 - 1610) , Armourer
  • Milan, Italy
  • c. 1590
  • Steel and gold, etched and gilded
  • Height: 11.5 cm, arch
    Width: 11.1 cm, tread
    Weight: 1.2 kg
  • A443
  • European Armoury III
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Stirrup, right, of ‘boot’-type, designed for use in the joust and tourney, one of a pair with A442. Of steel, etched and formerly gilt. To the arch-shaped stirrup has been added a large, rounded plate shaped to the front of the foot, along with a side plate to protect the outside of the ankle. At the top of the arch is a box for the stirrup leather. The whole surface is etched with trophies of arms and musical instruments on a scribbled, granulated ground, with bands, containing blackened, interlaced strapwork and oval panels of warriors and nude male figures also on a granulated ground, which still bears traces of gilding. The flat, iron sole is held in place by three lugs turned up and riveted to the foot-plate.

    The flanking ankle-plate, which is decorated en suite, is fixed to the stirrup on the outer side and this, in turn, overlaps the foot-piece.
    The style of decoration, especially the interlaced strapwork, is reminiscent of products from or associated with the Milanese workshop of Pompeo della Cesa (see also A59).

    A pair of stirrups of the same form, but without decoration, is represented by Skelton I, pl. IV, fig. 6; other pairs are in the Royal Armouries and the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.

    This pair probably form part of a garniture of which the arms, pauldrons, tassets, skirt and infantry cuirass are at Malta (Thomas and Gamber, 1958, p. 799, no. 9). The breastplate is signed POMPEO, by Pompeo della Cesa. The gorget does not belong to this garniture but to another for which the round target is still at Malta and parts of the man's armour at Sandringham (Laking, A Catalogue of the armour and arms in the Armoury of the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, 1904, no. 370, pl. Xxi; and C. P. Clarke, 1910, no. 772, pl. 32). The buff and fall of the burgonet of the garniture to which nos. A442 and 443 belong are probably no. 98 in the Museo Stibbert, Florence (1975 Cat., pl.90). Portions of this, or a vary similar armour are on loan to the Royal Armouries from the British Museum; a Spanish morion, a right pauldron for use with a lance-rest, the right rear arçon plate, and the right front arçon plate (nos. 43.5-7.285, 286, 287 and 288). A round target possibly from this garniture was formerly in the collection of William Randolph Hearst. Parts of a very similar garniture, also signed POMPE, but unfortunately largely re-etched apparently after heavy corrosion, was at Hever Castle (sold Sotheby's, 5 May 1983, lot 48, repr. in cat.). It consisted of a field helmet with gorget plates, left full pauldron pierced for a reinforce for the tourney, right full pauldron for combat on foot, symmetrical vambraces, cavalry breastplate and tassets, backplate, laminated cuisses for the field with poleyns, and greaves.

    A portrait dated 1599, said to be of Juan Alfonso di Pimantel, Duque de Benevente (1533-1621), in the Instituo de Valencia de Don Juan, Madrid (no. 32), shows an armour of almost identical design, but without the lions' masks on the pauldrons. The small cartouche on which the maker's signature appeared is clearly visible.

    A garniture with very similar decoration is represented by a burgonet with a so-called Hungarian visor, in the Metropolitan Museum, New York (no. 14.205.603). The principal difference is that the white band dividing the main decorative bands does not contain a narrow black line as it does on A442-3. While plain boot stirrups of this type are relatively common, decorated ones are distinctly rare. There is an etched example (formerly in the collection of the late Mr. F. H. Cripps-Day), is in the Royal Armouries (no. VI.348; Dufty and Reid, 1968, pl. CXXXIV). A note on its decoration was published by A.V.B. Norman in the Journal of the Arms and Armour Society (VII, p.229).