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Armor Garniture, Probably of King Henry VIII of England (reigned 1509–47)

Armor Garniture, Probably of King Henry VIII of England (reigned 1509–47)

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description

Summary

This is the earliest dated armor from the royal workshops at Greenwich, which were established in 1515 by Henry VIII (reigned 1509–47) to produce armors for himself and his court. It is also the earliest surviving Greenwich garniture, an armor made with a series of exchange and reinforcing pieces by which it could be adapted for use in battle and in different forms of the tournament. Furthermore, the overall etching and gilding place it among the most richly decorated of all Greenwich armors. The design of the decoration is attributed to the German-born Swiss artist Hans Holbein the Younger (1497–1543), who worked at the English court from 1526 to 1528.The surviving exchange elements of this armor are a reinforcing breastplate with lance rest for use in the field or in the mounted tournament with lances; a left-hand gauntlet reinforce, or manifer, also used in the tournament with lances; and a right-hand locking gauntlet for the mounted tournament with swords.A highly unusual and innovative feature is the ventral plate, which was worn strapped to the chest beneath the breastplate in order to lessen the weight supported from the shoulders. A ventral plate is found on only one other armor, made in Greenwich in 1540 for Henry VIII.This armor is believed to have been made for Henry VIII and presented by him to the French ambassador François de La Tour d’Auvergne, viscount of Turenne, who led a diplomatic mission to London in 1527. After the viscount’s death in 1532, the armor presumably passed to his friend Galiot de Genouilhac, grand master of artillery and grand écuyer (master of the horse) of France, from whose descendants it came to The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Design of the decoration attributed to Hans Holbein the Younger (German, Augsburg 1497/98–1543 London)
Greenwich

The full suit of armor is a feature of the very end of the Middle Ages and of the Renaissance period. Plate armor is a type of personal body armor made from iron or steel plates. By about 1420, complete suits of plate armor had been developed in Europe. It commonly seen in the Western European armies especially during the Hundred Years War, the Wars of the Roses or the Italian Wars. European leaders in armoring techniques were northern Italians, Milan, and southern Germans. A full suit of plate armour would have consisted of a helmet, a gorget (or bevor), spaulders, pauldrons with guardbraces to cover the armpits as was seen in French armour, or besagews (also known as rondels) which were mostly used in Gothic Armour, rerebraces, couters, vambraces, gauntlets, a cuirass (back and breastplate) with a fauld, tassets and a culet, a mail skirt, cuisses, poleyns, greaves, and sabatons. The very fullest sets, known as garnitures, more often made for jousting than war, included pieces of exchange, alternate pieces suiting different purposes, so that the suit could be configured for a range of different uses, for example fighting on foot or on a horse. The armor was articulated and covered a man's entire body completely from neck to toe. Full suits of Gothic plate armor were worn on the battlefields of the Burgundian and Italian Wars. The most heavily armored troops were heavy cavalries, such as the gendarmes and early cuirassiers. The specialized jousting armor associated with the medieval knights developed in the 16th century. Maximilian armor of the early 16th century is a style using heavy fluting and some decorative etching, as opposed to the plainer finish on 15th-century white armor. The shapes include influence from Italian styles. This era also saw the use of closed helms, as opposed to the 15th-century-style sallets and barbutes. During the early 16th century the helmet and neck guard design were reformed to produce the so-called Nürnberg armor, many of them masterpieces of workmanship and design. As firearms became better and more common on the battlefield the utility of full armor gradually declined. After 1650, due to the development of the flintlock musket, which could penetrate armor from a considerable distance, plate armor was reduced to the simple breastplate (cuirass) worn by cuirassiers. The decoration of fine armour greatly increased in the period. Such work required armorers to either collaborate with artists. Daniel Hopfer was an etcher of armour by training, who developed etching as a form of printmaking. Other artists such as Hans Holbein the Younger produced designs for armor. The Milanese armorer Filippo Negroli, from a leading dynasty of armorers, was the most famous modeller of figurative relief decoration on armor.

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Date

1527
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The Metropolitan Museum of Art
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