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Breastplate (body armour): HEN.M.7A-1933

Object information

Awaiting location update






Breastplate, for medium or light field use, with partly modern or 'refreshed' etched decoration. Formed of a main plate of 'peascod' fashion, with associated gussets at the arm-openings. The broad, concave neck-opening and the gussets at the arm-opening have file-roped inward turns. A later rivet-hole is pierced to either side of the neck-opening for the attachment of a missing shoulder-strap. The gussets at the arm-openings are secured to the main plate by modern, brass-capped, round-headed rivets with circular, internal washers at their upper and lower ends. The left gusset is pierced with a pair of earlier rivet-holes just above its upper rivet, and with a single, earlier rivet-hole just to the inside of its lower rivet. The right gusset is pierced with an earlier rivet-hole just below and to the inside of its upper rivet, and just below and to the outside of its lower rivet. The main edges of both gussets show two cracks. The lower edge of the main plate is flanged outwards to receive a skirt. Each side of the flange is pierced with a rivet-hole for the attachment of the missing skirt. The right side of the flange is also pierced with three later holes, and the left side with two later holes. The flange is bent outwards at its centre and cracked at its left outer end.
The main plate is decorated at the neck with a roped, V-shaped rib that divides at its centre into a pair of adorsed volutes that are each etched with a classical bust. The main plate is further decorated with seven raised bands that diverge upwards and outwards from the waist to the neck and arms, and with raised borders at the arm-openings and sides. These raised bands and borders are etched with trophies, musical instruments, dolphins, lions, winged herms, half-humans wielding clubs, and fantastic animals involving oval cartouches that enclose, at the centre of the neck, a three-towered castle, and, in the central three bands, standing classical warriors, all on a stippled and blackened ground. Each band is enclosed to either side by three narrow bands of which the central one is decorated with guilloche and the outer ones remain plain. The central band is etched to either side with human and animal-headed scrolls on a later raised ground. The etched decoration at the belly, which is much pitted and worn, appears to be original. The etched decoration at the sides appears to be partly original and partly 'refreshed'. The etched decoration at the chest and shoulders is entirely modern. It is clearly a copy of the decoration of the backplate HEN.M.7B-1933 with which it was formerly associated. Part of the portion of half armour HEN.M.7A-C-1933


History note: Mr James Stewart Henderson of 'Abbotsford', Downs Road, St Helen's Park, Hastings, Sussex

Legal notes

J.S. Henderson Bequest

Measurements and weight

Depth: 18.1 cm
Height: 43.5 cm
Weight: 2.44 kg
Width: 36.6 cm

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Bequeathed (1933-03-16) by Henderson, James Stewart


16th Century
Production date: circa AD 1580


North Italian

The breastplate is bright with heavy pitting at the belly and waist-flange, and light patination elsewhere.

The existence of vacant holes in the gussets at the arm-openings that find no corresponding holes in the main plate of the breastplate, suggests, in conjunction with their poor fit and differences in the character of their roping, that these elements are not associated.

People, subjects and objects depicted

Components of the work

Rivet Caps composed of brass (alloy)
Main Plate

Materials used in production


Techniques used in production

Hammered : Formed of a main plate of 'peascod' fashion, with associated gussets at the arm-openings; hammered, shaped, riveted, decorated with raised borders and bands with etchings

Identification numbers

Accession number: HEN.M.7A-1933
Primary reference Number: 17750
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Thursday 7 January 2016 Last processed: Friday 8 December 2023

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Applied Arts

Citation for print

This record can be cited in the Harvard Bibliographic style using the text below:

The Fitzwilliam Museum (2024) "Breastplate (body armour)" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-04-18 01:50:58

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{{cite web|url= |title=Breastplate (body armour) |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2024-04-18 01:50:58|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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