Couter for the left elbow


Lacing armor to the knight's coat was one technique for improving flexibility. The paired holes on this elbow-guard were for a lace of this type.


Small shell-like form. It narrows towards front where it curves over bend of arm in pucker. Shaped to point of elbow from where it is embossed with transverse ridge that extends across outer face to pucker. There is punched hole at either end of this for now-lost strap-and-buckle. At mid-outer face cowter is pierced with transverse pair of small holes above & below ridge, for arming-points or rivets. Edges are plain & unturned. Surface is heavily ground down. Patching along the transverse ridge. The strap and buckle holes are slightly more raw than the lacing holes; they may have been made later, or the original holes may have been enlarged.

Curator's Comments

Rhodes archeological find. In its general form very similar to series of examples from the Georges Pauilhac collection now in the Musée de l'Armée, Paris (number PO. 2617, 2618, 2641, 2642, plus three without numbers). PO. 2642, 2617, and an unnumbered piece have boxed elbow-points, and are stamped with the "crow's foot" mark(s) of Calatayud or Casteljon de las Armas, Aragon. PO. 2618, 2641 (with rippled flutes above and below) also bear the same mark. Two other plain examples at Paris have a twice-struck, crowned miniscule 'Gothic' "r". A rounder specimen, with deeper flanges and with the ROM ROM mark ascribed to Romain des Ursins (?) (Milanese working in France, ca. 1510) is in the Tower (inv. # III.1115); see Norman, "A Pauldron..", p. 9, ill., and Dufty, European Armor.., plt. VI(left). Compare also to those of a composite armor (cat. no. 2, plate I) in the 1911 Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition, then in the collection of Ambrose Monell. Our couter closely resembles those worn by the soldiery in the Brussels altarpiece of the Passion, ca. 1480-1500 now in the Church of Sainte Dymphne, Geel. (See catalogue no. 75 in the 1960 Flemish exhibition at the Detroit Institute of Arts.) Similar examples of a Spanish origin can be found on the effiry of Juan Fernangez de Morales (end of the 15th/early 16th century) in S. Clara (Toledo) (see plate 149 of Theodor Muller, Sculpture in the Netherlands, Germany, France, and Spain:1400 to 1500 (Baltimore: Penguin Books, 1966).) This essentially Western European type of couter was also made in Italy for export, but by the end of the 15th century, and at least through the first decade of the 16th, the Italians themselves sometimes adopted it, especially in Venice. See, for example, the detail of San Liberale from the 'Castelfranco Madonna' by Giorgioni, in San Liberale at Castelfranco (illustrated as fig. 237 of Laking; p.11 of Norman) pre-1504. There is also the portrait of Frederico da Montefeltro by Justus of Ghent, in the Barberini Palace (Laking, fig. 225), as well as a slightly larger, ribbed and riveted example in Carpaccio's "Knight", dated 1510 (See Rona). The grouping of the letters may be "SIA"; cf. to catalogue no. 109 in the Poppi exhibition of 1967 (a bevor from Turin Royal Armory, E132). Compare also the mark of armet A153 in the Wallace Collection, London. Another is HAM accession #928.14, also ex-Rhodes. 2 more were on a composite armor shown in the 1911 loan exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (NYC). This type of cowter appers frequently in art of the L 15th/E 16th century. Similar defenses are worn by St. Liberale in Giorgioni's 'Castelfranco Madonna', pre-1504; the centurion Longinus & others in altarpiece of the Passion in Geel Church of Sainte Dymphne (Brussels, 1480-1500); an effigy of Juan Fernández de Morales in S. Clara, Toledo; a Spanish painting of St. Michael, attributed to Jamie Huguet (from the collection of the widow of Julius Kocherthaler, Berlin) & a South German lindenwood group of St. George & the Dragon (sold at Sotheby's, New York, 23/24 Nov. 1984, lot 48, repr. In catalog. (WJK)


Arthur R. Dufty, "European Armour in the Tower of London" (London: H.M.S.O., 1968), plt. XXIV.
A.V.B. Norman, "A Pauldron in the Scott Collection of Arms and Armour", The Scottish Art Review VII (1960): 9-11.
Lionello G. Boccia, Le Armature de S. Maria delle Grazie.. (Busto Arsizio: Bramante Editrice, 1982), figs. 511(B28) and 512 (B29); p. 276.
Anon, Museo-Armeria de D. Jose Estuch y Cumella (Barcelona: n.p., 1896; reprint ed., Barcelona: Puville-Editor, 1976), #734, plt. LXIX.
James G. Mann, "Notes on the Armor worn in Spain from the tenth to the fifteenth century," Archaeologia 83 (1933): plt. LXXXIX.
Guy F. Laking, A Record of European Armour and Arms.. (London: G. Bell & Sons, Ltd. 1920-22), figs. 225, 237.
Agathe Rona, "Zur Identitat von Carpaccios 'Ritter'," Pantheon XLI, #IV (October-December 1983): 295-302; fig/ 1/

Publication & Exhibit History

Metropolitan Museum of Art negative number 74964. Walter J. Karcheski, Jr. and Thom Richardson, "The medieval armour from Rhodes" (Leeds and Worcester: The Royal Armouries Museum and Higgins Armory Museum, 2000), cat. no. 9.4.


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