Half-armor for a member of the Papal Guard



Portions of a suit of armor, consisting of breastplate, backplate and pauldrons, with rerebraces; breastplate of peascod form, has roped turn-overs at neck and borderings the gussets. All the elements are engraves with bold gilded strap-work and scrolls, that on the breastplate coming from the mouth of the grotesque mask; on both breast and back, close to the roping at the neck, is an armorer's mark-a shield with three fleurs-de-lys charged upon it, under a crown. The pauldrons have been altered, and the skirt lame has been corroded and reblued. Burgonet: Contemporary, but probably associated. Compare similar types in Stibbert Musem (inv. #909 late XVI-early 17th c., p. 162, V.1) and WCL (assoc W/A. 54, pp.67-68, Milanese half-armor, ca. 1560-70). Helmet of A. 54 probably later, proper right cheekpiece restored. One-piece bowl, ca. 1580-1600. Collar: Associated, and not of period (ca. 1620 or later) Breast and back plates: Peascod shape, flexible gussets date ca. 1580-NLT 1600. This is virtually the same as # 3964 (Sibbert- V.2, plt. Cxcvii, p. 675) from Richards Collection; different waist lame. Also shown on pg. 26, #22 of Cimarelli. Breast and back belong, but most likely later engraved to match Stibbert design. Pauldrons: Those of the Stibbert Armor are complete, similarly decorated to the breastplate. Edges are roped, with a slightly recessed border (on all lames). Ours have been drastically reworked; only the central lame of the proper left is not reworked. This is roped, but without the recessed surface. Other lames are associated, cut, and pieced together. In addition, each central lame bears a repoussed curved motif from the center lame, extending both front and rear parallerl to the arm opening terminal edges. This design is unassociated to the other designs on the remainder of the components. It appears that the foliate design was added later in an attempt to match the currass. The repoussed lines do not show up on the Stibbert pieces (of which only the proper right seems to have had restoration work done).

Curator's Comments

Compare a perhaps similarly blued and gilded armor in the DIA. Burgonet: Stibbert burgonet, blued, similar in outline, cheekpieces, etc. End of 16th-early 17th C. (From: Lensi) (plt. xlvii, p. 162, V.1) Collar: Blair, European Armour, p. 147. Breast and Back: Stibbert armor #3964. Italian parade; early 17c. Blued and gilded, no mention of marks; different waist lame (V. 2, plt. cxcvii, p. 675) The arms are depicted on the title page of Fr. Silvister Petra Sancta, Tesserae Gentilitiae (1638). Also shown on p. 236 of Neubecker's Heraldry. Page 130 of same says the Taddeo Barberini was Prefect of Papal troops NLT 1646. A number of similar half suits are in public museums, in the George F. Harding Museum, Chicago; Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, England; Abbotsford; Stibbert Museum, Florence


Cf. the example in the Thomas Del Mar auction Dec 2007 lot 349, with references. A breastplate appears in Czerny's Auction 25 (March 2009) lot 181.
Cantelli, Giorgio, Claudio Marra, et al. (2006). Die Päpstliche Schweizergarde. Zeitgenössische Stiche und Aquarelle vom 16. bis zum 20. Jahrhundert aus der Privatsammlung des Hauptmanns Roman Fringeli. Regensburg, Verlag Schnell und Steiner.
Catalogue of armour and weapons comprising the property of Robert Coltman Clephan, Esp., Deceased…and of the Viscount Boyne, Brancepeth Castle, Durham. Londond, Sotheby's, nov. 22-23, 1922. Lot 247.
Blair, Claude. European Armour, 1972.
Mann, James G. Wallace Collection Catalogue— European Armour. V.1
Cimarelli, Aldo. Arms and Armour.
Neubecker, Ottfried. Heraldry.
Lensi, Alfredo. Il Museo Stibbert: Catalogue delli Sale delle Armi Europee. 2 V. Firenze: N.P., 1917-18.
Cf. decoration to Boccia 1975 #20 (pl. 19).

Publication & Exhibit History

Higgins catalogue by Grancsay, p. 82.


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