Breastplate

427.b

Description

Of one piece, graceful peasecod form, downcurved along a full-length medial ridge to a rounded point just below the waistline. The curved armpits are fitted with flexible gussets etched with gilded granular bands of foliate tendrils once blued. The squared-off top of each gusset has a modern buckle riveted to its face; there is a vacant hole on each gusset suggesting that a leather was once fitted in place of the buckle and engaged a buckle on the backplate shoulder. The edges of the gussets and of the curved neck opening are hollow-turned inwardly and chisel roped, with traces of gilding preserved. The neck opening is bordered with an etched, trophied band which widens to the medial line, and is bordered below with an embossed rib, etched with gilded guilloche. Bordering the armpits and the straight lower rear edges of the breastplate are tendril-filled etched and gilded bands like those of the gussets. Extending down the medial line and from each armpit to a guilloche band that encircles the bend of the waist are tapering bands of etched trophies once blued, on a granular gilded gorund within narrow etched sunken bands. To either side of the top of the medial band between it and the band above, is a triangular trophied group framed below by a recurved dolphin motif. On the right side, near the upper end of the band at the armpit, the breastplate is pierced with a vertical pair of plain large holes for a lance-rest now lost. The breastplate is finished in a curved, narrow basal flange which is downturned, and to the ends of which is riveted a two-lamed skirt. Decorative bands of trophies radiate across the flange and skirt, onto the tassets. The skirt lames are narrow, curving down to the fork from a slight spring for the hips. They are of equal depth over their length, and slightly angled at the ends which are edged with tropied bands between a pair of low, guilloche-etched ribs. A siimilar, but tendril-filled band with a pair of flush iron rivets arches across the curve of the basal lame at its fork which is inwardly turned and chisel-roped. The lames are riveted together at the ends. Along each side of the trendril-etched upper edge of the basal lame is a set of three leather with brass rivets and rosettes for the tassets. The less-than-perfect fit of the topmost lame to the flange, and a lack of alignment of the etched bands on the face suggests that the lames, while similar, may not belong, or that a third lame above is lost.

Curator's Comments

Like the helmet, comparative examples exist. Compare the form of the breast and the character of the etched trophies to catalogue nos. 113, 114 (inv. nos. 1118, 301) in the Odescalchi catalogue, both given as c 1560-70 North Italian work. Another breastplate, but German (?), and slightly bulged at the sides, with etched bands of different character is in the MMA (no. 29.158.141, cat. 66 in the Dean Memorial Collection Catalogue, p. 146, ill. as pl. XXXVII) given as c 1560. Other examples of similar form and construction include that of a Brescian (?) armor c 1570 in the Museo Stibbert (inv. no. 3472; Boccia, Museo Stibbert, cat. no. 17, p. 21); an armor in the KHM (A.1116) for Ottavio Farnese, c1560-65 (fig. 156 in Lombarde); Francesco Maria II della Rovere, Brescian, c. 1565-70 (Bargello M746/751, fig. 159 in Lombarde); a Brescian breastplate for foot service, c1565-70 in the Stibbert (inv. no. 2198, fig. 158 in Lombarde); that of Vespasiano Gonzaga, c. 1570-75 in Vienna (A.1209, shown as fig 97 p. 105 in Gamber): half-armor A.54, Brescian (?), c1560-70 in the Wallace Collection (Mann, WCL, pl. 37); and that of a composite armor, inv. no. 969 in the Marzoli Collection (cat. no. 9 in Rossi/di Carpegna).

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