The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
  • Stirrup
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • England
  • c. 1660
  • Copper alloy and enamel
  • Height: 10.7 cm, arch
    Width: 12 cm, tread
    Weight: 0.58 kg
  • A446
  • European Armoury II
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Stirrup, one of a pair with A447, of enamelled brass. Arched outline, the sides flat, increasing in width towards the base; the tread consists of two inner straight bars and two rounded outer ones, notched on the upper edge; at the top a swivel ring for the leather. The decoration of the sides takes the form of conventional vine leaves and grapes chiselled in relief and roughly filled in with blue, white and yellow enamel. What may be an obliterated mark, but more likely a defect in the casting, occurs under the tread of both.

    A pair of stirrups answering to the description of A446-7 was in the Picard sale, Paris, 17-25 January, 1780, lot 198: 'émaillé avec de feuilles de vigne & des raisins, sur un fond blanc, juane et bleu'. Another pair is in the Victoria and Albert Museum, and a single stirrup (enamelled green and white) was formerly in the collection of Sir James Mann. A pair of stirrups and a bit enamelled en suite in red and white was in the Lockett sale, 1942 (acquired for the Royal Armouries). They belong to a rare class which the late Mr. C. R. Beard described in The Connoisseur, LXXXVIII (1931), pp. 219-29 and XC (1932), pp. 25-6. An enamelled spur of the same type is in the R. L. Scott Collection, Glasgow Museums, a powder flask and a lid both with portrait and initials of Charles II are at Windsor Castle, No. 350. Francis Cripps-Day possessed two hangers with similarly enamelled hilts, now in the Royal Armouries (nos. IX. 762 and IX. 756). This type of enamelling was also applied to fire-dogs, sconces and mirrors; and a needle-case is in the Metropolitan Museum, New York (Mann, Country Life, XCIII, 1943, pp. 480-1, 711). C. C. Oman did not accept Mr. Beard's attribution to a Surrey factory, but the group is undoubtedly English and made within narrow limits of time in the third quarter of the 17th century.

    The group of brass objects cast with decoration in relief and enameled in simple bright opaque colours, to which these stirrups belong, was first recognised as being English by Viscount Dillon (Burlington Magazine, XVI, pp. 261-7). C. R. Beard later suggested that they might be the enamels made in Surrey, known from documentary sources (Connoisseur, LXXXVIII, pp. 219-29, and ibid, XC, 1932, pp. 25-6). This theory, however, is no longer accepted. H. W. Williams published an English recipe for enamel written down by Simon Forman before 1611, and illustrated his article with a needle-case decorated in the manner of A446 and 447, in the Metropolitan Museum, New York (Technical Studies, VII, pp. 156-8). The powder flask at Windsor Castle was apparently made up in the 18th century from two plaques similar to the one described in the 1962 Catalogue as the lid of a box (1904 Cat., No. 350 and North Corridor Cat., No. 2635). A similar plaque is in the Victoria and Albert Museum, with another bearing the crowned monogram JR (Nos. 4920-1901 and 4919-1901). The bit and stirrups in the Royal Armouries are nos. VI.327 and 327a (Dufty and Reid, 1968, pls. CLVI and CLIX).

    The hanger IX.762 in the Royal Armouries, which is illustrated by Dufty and Borg (1974, pI. 67a), is of a type found at the very end of the 17th century. The latter is of a type probably to be dated about the middle of the century. Another very similar to it is in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (C. ffoulkes, European arms and armour in the University of Oxford, 1912, no. 24, pI. X). A pair of stirrups enamelled in this way in blue and white, said to have been used by the Duke of Schomberg at the Battle of the Boyne, was sold by Sotheby's, 1 December 1983, lot 158a, repr. in cat. An additional pair of stirrups of this type are on a saddle with richly embroidered velvet cover at Wistow Hall, Leicestershire, traditionally said to be that left behind by Charles I after the battle of Naseby in 1645 (C. Blair, personal communication). A pair of spurs were on the London art market in 1965. A small-sword hilt of about 1645-50, decorated in this way with pale blue enamel, is in the Montagu family armoury at Boughton House, Northamptonshire (Norman and Barne, 1980, p. 381).