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Partial armour: M.1.2-1936

Object information

Current Location: Gallery 31 (Armoury)






Partial armour, comprising a breastplate, a backplate and a pair of pauldrons and upper cannons, decorated ensuite with one another, probably for use by a member of the Papal bodyguard. The armour is decorated on the breastplate, the backplate, the third lame of the pauldron and the outside of the upper cannon of the vambrace with an etched linear design of curved rays that diverge downwards and outwards and are separated by circular or oval pellets. On the breastplate (M.1.2B-1936) the rays issue between a pair of adorsed, scrolling acanthus leaves, from the mouth of a grotesque mask, and are surmounted at their centre by a crowned eagle in display. Stylised acanthus foliage also decorates the centre of the border of the neck. On the backplate (M.1.2C-1936), the rays issue between a pair of adorsed, scrolling acanthus leaves, from the base of an urn, and are separated at their base by a pair of adorsed, stylised acanthus leaves. The rays on the third lame of the pauldron (M.1.2A-1933) are also separated at their base by stylised foliage. The rays on the lower cannon issue from a circular pellet. The decoration is gilt throughout against a blued ground. The main and subsidiary edges of all preserved parts of the armour are also gilt, as are their decorative raised ribs.


History note: Mrs E.W. Stead and Mr Gilbert Stead of Dalston Hall, Cumberland

Legal notes

Given by Mrs E.W. Stead and Mr Gilbert Stead

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Given (1936-01-15) by Stead, E. W. and Gilbert


16th Century, Late
Circa 1570 - 1590


Although all elements of the armour are similarly decorated, they appear not to have originally been made for one another. The breastplate is taller at the sides than the backplate, and decorated at its subsidiary edges with pairs of incised lines rather than the single incised lines found on the other elements. The character of the roping of the pauldrons and the turners suggests that these pieces were made about fifteen to twenty years after the breastplate and backplate. It must therefore be concluded either that the armour is composed of elements of a series of similarly decorated armour, or that it is composed of unrelated elements that were originally plain and only subsequently decorated to match one another. The character of the decoration favours the latter interpretation.

North Italian

The armour has a blued and gilt finish. The bluing shows extensive patches of light pitting. The gilding shows slight pitting and some wear, especially at the roped edges.

School or Style


Materials used in production


Identification numbers

Accession number: M.1.2-1936
Primary reference Number: 18114
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Friday 27 November 2020 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) "Partial armour" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-04-14 21:55:19

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{{cite web|url= |title=Partial armour |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2024-04-14 21:55:19|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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