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Breastplate (body armour): HEN.M.8B-1933

Object information

Awaiting location update






Breastplate with restored skirt and tassets, for field use, with etched decoration. The breastplate, of late 'peascod' form, is made in one piece, with file-roped inward turns at its neck and arm-openings, and a flange at the waist to receive the skirt. A modern single-ended, tongued iron buckle is riveted at each shoulder just below the original holes for their attachment, which are now vacant. The skirt, which is attached to the waist-flange of the breastplate by a rivet at either side, is formed of one lame. Its lower edge is cut with a shallow arch over the crotch. Attached by three modern straps and buckles at each side of the skirt is a tasset formed of five medially-ridge, upward overlapping lames. The lower end of the tasset is strongly convex. The second lame of the right tasset is cracked at its inner end, and the first lame of the left tasset lacks its upper inner corner. The lames are connected to one another by rivets at their outer ends and by internal leathers at their centres and inner ends. The connecting rivets of the right tasset move within slots. The main edges of the skirt and tassets are decorated with file-roped inward turns. Those of the tassets are accompanied by recessed borders and, in the case of their last lames, file-roped ribs. The secondary edges of the skirt and tassets are decorated with file-roped partial inward turns.
The breastplate, skirt and tassets are all decorated with etched bands and borders of trophies on a stippled ground. The main bands of the breastplate include cartouches containing classical figures, cherubs, sea horses and dolphins. The main bands are in all cases bordered by narrower bands, in some cases decorated with guilloche. Part of the composite half armour HEN.M.8A-F-1933


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

Legal notes

J.S. Henderson Bequest

Acquisition and important dates

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


16th/17th century
Circa 1590 - 1600


North Italian

The breastplate, skirt and tassets are bright with a variable medium to heavy patination overall.

The etched decoration of the breastplate is partly refreshed, but otherwise very worn. That of the skirt and tassets is entirely modern. The skirt is a modern restoration. The tassets have been made up in modern times from old lames that have been partly reworked to make them match. Differences in construction and detail show that the tassets did not originally form a pair. The character of the roping of the last lame of the left tasset suggests that it was made about 1560.

People, subjects and objects depicted

Components of the work

Buckles composed of iron (metal) ( modern)
Straps composed of leather ( modern)
Breastplate Depth 16.0 cm Height 42.5 cm Weight 2.63 kg Width 35.2 cm
Right Tasset Depth 7.0 cm Height 27.8 cm Weight 0.54 kg Width 22.5 cm
Left Tasset Depth 8.0 cm Height 27.0 cm Weight 0.55 kg Width 23.5 cm

Materials used in production


Techniques used in production

Hammering : The breastplate, of late peascod form, is made in one piece, with file-roped inward turns at its neck and arm-openings, and a flange at the waist to receive the skirt, which is formed of one lame; hammered, shaped, riveted with etched decoration

Inscription or legends present

  • Text: PB/6
  • Location: Breastplate
  • Type: Label
  • Text: PB.9
  • Location: Tassets
  • Type: Label

Inscription present: filed internally with V-shaped nicks representing construction marks

  • Location: Lames of the right tasset
  • Method of creation: Filed
  • Type: Mark

Identification numbers

Accession number: HEN.M.8B-1933
Primary reference Number: 17758
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Thursday 7 January 2016 Last processed: Wednesday 14 April 2021

Associated departments & institutions

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

Citation for print

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The Fitzwilliam Museum (2023) "Breastplate (body armour)" Web page available at: Accessed: 2023-02-09 02:50:23

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