Artifact of the Day


Left vambrace

Northern Italy (Milan) (1560-1570)

The vambraces form an identical pair. Each consists of a cylindrical, two-part rotating upper cannon with leather loop for the pauldron-strap, in turn riveted to a lower cannon of two hinged halves, through a couter of two curved narrow lames each above and below a mainlame of 'bracelet' or closed form. The upper cannon has an arched, inward turn at the bend of the arm, and is riveted closed along the inner face. The flange of the cannon is enclosed by an embossed, guilloche and pearl-etched race. The angular opening above has an inwardly turned edge which downcurves on the inside of the arm, and is fitted with a riveted pair of curved laminations on the top outer face. The uppermost lame is arched and fitted with a leather tab for arming-points. Bordering the opening is a rivet-filled, etched trophied recessed band and guilloche rib. Down its outer face the upper half has a trophied band along the medial line, to either side of which the edges are decorated with foliate tendril bands. Tendrils are also found on the inner seam and arch at the bend of the upper cannon, and the opening at the bend of the arm, as well as the hinged side of the lower cannon. The medial trophied band and tendrils on the lame edges are also found extending longitudinally along the rear of the arm defense down to the wrist opening below.

The couter is of the closed form, with a strong, embossed transverse roped rib between a pair of recessed bands and embossed ribs, extending from the bend of the arm across the outer face, almost to the riveted seam on the inner face. The tendon-protector is asymmetrically formed with heart-shaped lobes, and has a strong, inwardly turned roped edge with traces of gilding. This is bordered by a trophy-filled etched band. The recessed bands above and below the embossed rib on the outer face are similarly filled within a strapwork frame.

The outer, deep gutter-like plate of the slightly tapered lower cannon is riveted to the lowest lame of the cowter. The shallower inner plate is hinged on the inner face and secured closed by a peg on the outer edge engaging a corresponding hole on the outer plate. The curved edge at the bend of the arm is en suite to that above, and is bordered with a trophied band and an embossed, rope-etched lower rib. The lower opening is decorated to match, but has a chisel-roped inward turn to the basal edge, and a medial trophied band extending down the face of the hinged plate between the bands above and below.