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Breastplate (body armour): HEN.M.12C-1933

Object information

Awaiting location update

Maker(s)

Unknown

Entities

Categories

Description

Breastplate with skirt, for heavy cavalry use, with etched decoration. Formed of a main plate of 'peascod' fashion with moveable gussets at the arm-openings, and a skirt of one lame. The broad, concave neck-opening and the gussets have bold, file-roped inward turns. The roping of the gussets appears to have been refreshed. That at the neck is bordered by a V-shaped rib retaining traces of roping. The main plate is pierced near the right armpit with a pair of vertically-aligned holes for the attachment of a lance-rest. The holes have been opened out into irregular ovals. The gussets at the arm-openings are secured to the main plate by modern, round-headed rivets at their top and bottom ends. The upper rivet of the right gusset is fitted with a square, internal washer. Each gusset is pierced around its turned edge with six holes that may at some time have served to attach a lining or a fringe. The holes can be recognised as later modifications, with the possible exception of the upper one in each case, which may have served to attach buckles for the shoulder-straps. Modern, double-ended, tongued iron buckles for the shoulder-straps are secured at each shoulder of the main plate by single round-headed rivets with circular internal washers. The washers are decorated with simple incised lines. The buckles have oval loops and long hasps with rounded ends and constricted sides. The main plate is pierced at each side of the waist with a possible construction-hole. The lower edge of the main plate is flanged outwards to receive a skirt of one lame. The flange is repaired to the left of its centre with a riveted and brazed internal patch. The lower edge of the skirt has an arched cut-out over the crotch. The cut-out has a file-roped inward turn bordered by a low, plain rib. Each end of the rib is decorated with a modern, round-headed rivet. Each of the outer ends of the skirt-lame has a file-roped inward turn bordered by a low, roped rib. The skirt-lame is attached to the flange of the main plate at each side by a modern, flat-headed rivet at each side. The upper edge of the skirt-lame is fitted at either side with three pairs of modern, flat-headed rivets for the attachment straps to suspend tassets. The inner of the pair of rivets for each of the outer straps is also that which articulates the skirt-lame to the main plate.
The main plate is etched with seven vertical bands of trophies, herms, classical figures, dolphins, birds and fabulous beasts on a blackened ground, repeated in the V-shaped border at the neck, and in narrower bands around its arm-openings and at each of its lateral edges. The vertical bands, which widen and diverge to their upper ends, are bordered to either side by three narrower bands of which the central one is decorated with guilloche, and the outer ones are plain. The bands at the arm-openings are each bordered to the outside by a pair of narrower, plain bands, and to the inside by a single, narrower, plain band. The bands at the lateral edges are each bordered to the outside by a pair of narrow, plain bands, and to the inside by three narrower bands of which the central one is decorated with guilloche, and the outer ones are plain. The upper end of the central vertical band terminates in a pair of roundels, the left and right of which respectively contain confronted male and female classical busts. The angles formed to either side of the junction of the central vertical band with the border at the neck are decorated with triangular panels of trophies enclosed to their outsides by scrolling dragons and dolphins. The etched decoration of the main plate has suffered considerable wear, and shows evidence of having been extensively refreshed. Its ground retains traces of modern gold paint. The skirt-lame is etched with three bands of trophies and perhaps other devices on a stippled and blackened ground, repeated in narrower bands at its upper and outer edges. The vertical bands, which diverge to their lower ends, are bordered to either side by three narrower bands of which the central one is decorated with guilloche, and the outer ones are plain. The band at the upper edge is bordered above by two narrower bands, of which the upper one is roped, and the lower one is plain, and below by a single, narrower plain band which is interrupted by the vertical bands. The bands at the outer ends are each bordered to the outside by a single, narrower, plain band, and to the inside by two narrower, plain bands that are separated by the roped rib that borders the ends. The etching of the skirt-lame is heavily rubbed. Part of the composite half armour HEN.M.12A-J-1933

Notes

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: 16.7 cm
Height: 44.1 cm
Weight: 2.52 kg
Width: 36.0 cm

Relative size of this object

36 cm44.1 cm16.7 cm What does this represent?

Relative size of this object is displayed using code inspired by Good Form and Spectacle's work on the British Museum's Waddeson Bequest website and their dimension drawer. They chose a tennis ball to represent a universally sized object, from which you could envisage the size of an object.

Acquisition and important dates

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

Dating

Late 16th Century
Circa 1580 - 1570

Note

North Italian

The breastplate is bright with a light patination over most of its surface, but a heavier pitting and patination at some points: most notably at the neck of the main plate, on the gussets and on the skirt. The surface of the metal shows delamination at many points: most notably at the neck, the right gusset and the centre of the waist.

The fact that the skirt-lame is etched with only three vertical bands compared with the seven found on the main plate of the breastplate, suggests that it is associated with the latter. This view is encouraged by the shallower character of the etching on the skirt-lame and its possession of a stippled ground not found on the main plate. The attachment of the skirt-lame to the flange of the main plate by rivets intended to retain the suspension-straps for the tassets cannot represent an original feature. It is possible that the straps were originally secured by single rivets, and that the second rivets represent a modern modification. The etching of the main plate shows evidence of having been extensively refreshed. It may even have been altered in its character to make the breastplate more closely match the backplate HEN M.12D-1933 with which it has been associated.

People, subjects and objects depicted

Components of the work

Buckles composed of iron (metal) ( modern)
Decoration composed of gold paint
Parts
Washers

Materials used in production

Steel

Techniques used in production

Hammered : Formed of a main plate of 'peascod' fashion with moveable gussets at the arm-openings, and a skirt of one lame; hammered, shaped, riveted, with etched decoration, file-roped decoration and washers decorated with incised lines
Patinating
Forming

Identification numbers

Accession number: HEN.M.12C-1933
Primary reference Number: 17836
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Friday 8 January 2016 Last processed: Sunday 21 March 2021

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 (2022) "Breastplate (body armour)" Web page available at: https://data.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/id/object/17836 Accessed: 2022-12-01 09:45:17

Citation for Wikipedia

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{{cite web|url=https://data.fitzmuseum.cam.ac.uk/id/object/17836 |title=Breastplate (body armour) |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2022-12-01 09:45:17|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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