Skip to main content

Backplate (body armour): HEN.M.12D-1933

Object information

Awaiting location update






Backplate, for field use, with etched decoration. Formed of a single plate weakly shaped to the shoulder-blades and the hollow of the back. The broad, shallow neck-opening, and the arm-openings have file-roped inward turns bordered by low, roped ribs. The rib at the neck is interrupted at its centre. Each arm-opening is pierced around its turned edge with five holes that may at some time have served to attach a lining or a fringe. Each side of the backplate is pierced top and bottom with a pair of later, horizontally-aligned holes. The lower edge of the backplate is flanged outwards to form a very short, integral skirt. The edge of the skirt, which is slightly arched at its centre has a plain, inward turn which is partly broken away at its left end. The angle of the skirt is pierced some distance in from each side with a later wiring-hole. Attached by a single round-headed rivet with a square internal washer at each shoulder is a modern, buff-leather shoulder-strap. Attached by a single round-headed rivet with a circular internal washer at each side of the waist is a modern, buff-leather strap forming a waist-belt. The left strap terminates in a modern, double-ended, tongued iron buckle with filed ornament and a long, rounded hasp secured by a single round-headed rivet with a square internal washer. The backplate shows three small rust-perforations and some delamination of the surface of its metal. Two larger rust-perforations at the right shoulder-blade, and another just to the inside of the left shoulder-blade have been repaired with riveted internal patches.
The backplate is etched with seven vertical bands of trophies, winged herms, dolphins, birds and fabulous beasts on a stippled and blackened ground, repeated in narrower bands around its neck and arm-openings, and around the edge of the skirt. 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 neck and arm-openings 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 relevant edge. The band around the edge of the skirt is bordered above and below by a single, narrower, plain band. The upper end of the central vertical band terminates in a pair of roundels containing confronted, male, 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 backplate has suffered some wear, and may have been refreshed at some points. Its ground retains traces of modern gold paint. Part of the composite half armour HEN.M.12A-J-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: 16.7 cm
Height: 44.1 cm
Weight: 2.52 kg
Width: 36.0 cm

Acquisition and important dates

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


16th Century, Late
Production date: circa AD 1580


North Italian

The backplate is bright with a medium patination overall, interspersed at some points with patches of heavier pitting and patination.

People, subjects and objects depicted

Components of the work

Decoration composed of gold paint ( modern, traces of)
Buckle composed of iron (metal) ( modern)
Shoulder-straps composed of leather ( modern)

Materials used in production


Techniques used in production

Hammered : Formed of a single plate weakly shaped to the shoulder-blades and the hollow of the back; hammered, shaped, riveted, with etched decoration, file-roped decoration and washers decorated with incised lines

Identification numbers

Accession number: HEN.M.12D-1933
Primary reference Number: 17838
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Friday 8 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) "Backplate (body armour)" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-04-19 23:14:35

Citation for Wikipedia

To cite this record on Wikipedia you can use this code snippet:

{{cite web|url= |title=Backplate (body armour) |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2024-04-19 23:14:35|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

API call for this record

To call these data via our API (remember this needs to be authenticated) you can use this code snippet:

More objects and works of art you might like

Composite armour

Accession Number: M.13-1941

Composite armour

Accession Number: M.1.1A-H-1936

Half armour

Accession Number: HEN.M.4A-D-1933

Half armour

Accession Number: HEN.M.1A-E-1933

Suggested products from Curating Cambridge

You might be interested in this...

Sign up for updates

Updates about future exhibitions and displays, family activities, virtual events & news. You'll be the first to know...