Artifact of the Day


Left tasset

France (1550-1575)

The tassets are of oblong form, concave to the body, and of seven lames slightly recurved on the inner edges, and overlapping towards the waist. They are each articulated on a pair of internal leathers (restored) and rivets near the terminals. The lames are of more-or-less equal depth, except for the basal which is slightly dipped along the inwardly turned, roped edge, and the topmost lame. This is irregularly trapezoidal in form and shaped to conform to the "spring" of the hips. The upper edge is plain and is pierced with a hole near either end and a transverse slot for the turning-pin. Originally there were three holes, each of which held a buckle for straps from the fauld above. On the lower edge of this lame within are two empty holes, which with those now retaining the upper end of the articulating leathers, probably once secured an internal cloth lining. Domed rivets extending around the turned, roped edges of the two sides and bottom of each tasset once secured the leather strip to which such a lining was sewn.

The tassets have apparently old patched repairs at each of the turning-pin slots, and on the outer edge of the fourth lame from the top of the left tasset. The decoration of the tassets is near identical to one another. An armed warrior, resting on his lance is at the center, with a group of military trophies at his feet. He is framed by voluted strapwork, amidst a background filled with cornucopia, foliate tendrils, floral-filled arms, winged tritons and vegetations. The addorsed voluted bases of the strapwork are spanned by the head and wings of a putto; the upper sides are supported by figures of Fame as caryatids. The upper terminals are finished in voluted, addorsed cornucopiae grasped by a central satyr-like figure. The snail motif is also present on the tassets, and the right basal lame has an additional figure of a hare (symbolic of Lust, and an attribute to Venus) embossed on the inner edge.