The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
  • Mace
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Milan, Italy
  • 2nd half of 16th century
  • Iron or steel, gold and silver, chiselled, false-damascened and russeted
  • Length: 48 cm, haft
    Weight: 1.54 kg
  • A986
  • European Armoury III
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Mace, with a spherical head, set with twenty-two square-section spikes; tubular haft with two mouldings near the head; the grip, nearly square in section protected by a small rondel, beneath which it is pierced for a lanyard; conical pommel finished with a small button. The head, the upper part of the haft and the grip are minutely decorated with addorsed C-shaped scrolls, filled with delicate arabesques overlaid in gold and silver, on a russeted ground; on the head are seven oval panels with borders encrusted with silver pearls or dots and containing figures representing Music, Fame, Venus and Cupid, etc., the haft with three panels of like decoration and the grip with four figures of: Mars, Hercules, Diana and Flora, chiselled in low relief. The central portion of the haft is vertically striped with gold.

    North Italian (Milanese), second half 16th century.

    L' Art Ancien IX, no. 1010; Laking, European Armour IV, fig. 1403, Boccia and Coelho, L' arte dell' armatura, 1975, pI. 474, 'Milan, about 1575'; Boccia, Rossi and Morin, Armi e armature Lombarde, 1980, pI. 250,
    'Milan, 1560-70'; Bosson, Armi antiche, 1963, pp. 107-40, lists comparable weapons.

    A previous identification of this mace with the name 'masse d' arme orientale damasquinée . . . 200 fr.' bought by the Comte de Nieuwerkerke (with other pieces) from Baur is unlikely. Besides not being Oriental, its quality would have commanded a much higher price. Furthermore, Spitzer is unlikely to have ceded so fine a weapon at a fraction of its value to Baur, a dealer of lesser standing. It is more likely that it passed direct from Spitzer to Sir Richard Wallace.

    Provenance: Frédéric Spitzer.

    The decoration is not strictly comparable to that of the armour of Don Juan of Austria at Vienna (Hofjagd- und Rüstkammer, inv. no. A1048-9), as once thought. A very similar mace was sold from the collection of Graf Erbach at Fischer's, Lucerne, 6-7 September 1932, lot 41, repr. in cat. It was said to match a 'Spanish' morion bearing the arms of Porro of Como (op. cit., lot 40, repr. in cat.). Both pieces came from the collection of Count Trivulzio of Milan, and both are now in the Philadelphia Museum of Art, in the Kienbusch collection, but not in the published catalogue. The comparable decoration on a kettle hat in the Metropolitan Museum, New York (no. 67.194; exhibited, The Art of Chivalry, 1982, no. 27, 'Milan, about 1590'), has been connected with that of an armour for the barriers, possibly of the Emperor Ferdinand II, at Vienna (Hofjagd- und Rüstkammer, inv. no. A1712). This bears the mark of an anonymous maker with the initials IO who used as a device a castle, thought to represent Milan. Three comparable maces are in the Armeria Reale, Turin (nos. 135-7; Mazzini, 1982, nos. 201-2, n. on pp. 367-8).