Breastplate

2532

This breastplate is highly ornate, yet heavy enough to resist musket balls. In fact, most ceremonial armors of the sixteenth century were made as functional as armor for the battlefield.

The inscription reads "Christ died for our sins, was resurrected for our salvation. Adam Joseph, 1557, aged 67." The hook at the belly secured a belt that attached the backplate to the front. The gussets at the armpits of this piece are spring-loaded, allowing the arms to flex forward, but closing off the gap when they are unflexed. (Age of Armor)

Description

Steel, of unusual weight, possibly of "proof". Breast elongated, with waistline dipped down towards fork. Medial ridge runs full length, peaking outwardly at about 2/3 of its length. Upper edge of breast nearly parallel, only slightly dipped near extremities. Flexible gussets secured with brass rivets (one modern) & are spring-loaded (cf. however to a similar set on the breastplate of Guidobaldo II delle Rovere, Duke of Urbino, made by Filippo Negroli about 1529. In the Bargello, Florence M772/778, plate 245 in Boccia/Coelho). Edges of gussets & upper edge of breast inwardly rolled, outwardly flared, & boldly cabled with chisel-marks. At mid-point of each is spaced, raised moulding. Right gusset inner edge has been cut away to accomodate bolts of lance-rest, now lacking. Holes are plugged. Plain, sunken border around armpits & across top of breast, below legend. This reads "CHR[IST]VS MORTVVS EST P[RO]P[TER] PECCATA N[OST]RA/RESURREXIT P[RO]P[TER] IVSTIFICACIONEM N[OST]RI/A + D + E + M + 4 IPH4 + 1557 AE:67". At base of medial ridge just below waist is "L" shaped bracket which serves to retain leather belt from backplate in position. 5 punched holes on interior of breastplate flange, one at the medial line, one paur each near the terminals, for the leathers of a fauld (lacking). In its place is a single, outwardly curved lame, pierced with two sets of dulled holes for tassets (lacking).

Curator's Comments

This breastplate should be compared to a similar example shown in the 1927 catalogue of E. Kahlert and Son (Berlin), there given as "Prince Radizwill Collection". The Kahlert piece appears to have an identical legend in the breastplate fringe, and a very similar religious motif. Knowing the questionable professional ethics of this firm and its dealings with the forger Anton Konrad, it is not unreasonable to suggest that both may be examples of Konrad's armor work of enhancing. (See the article on Konrad and the Kahlert firm in Connoisseur, September 1948).

Bibliography

Theodore F. Monnich, et al., "Renaissance Hardwear: The Art and Technology of Armor" (Memphis: National Ornamental Metal Museum, 1987).
Anon., "Das Wiener B├╝rgerliche Zeughaus" (Vienna: Museen der Stadt Wien, 1977), #249, 217.
Lionello G. Boccia and Eduardo T. Coelho, "L'Arte dell "Armatura in Italia" (Milan: Bramante Editrice, 1967), plt. 245.
Rudolf H. Wackernagel, "Das M├╝nchner Zeughaus" (Munich: Schnell & Steiner, 1982), fig. 16, #18, 19.

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