Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Pair of Rowel Spurs

early 17th century
Iron alloy, gold, enamel
04.3.170; L. 5 1/4 in. (13.3 cm); W. 3 3/8 in. (8.6 cm); Diam. of rowel 2 in. (5.1 cm); Wt. 3.2 oz. (90.7 g); 04.3.171; L. 5 1/4 in. (13.3 cm); W. 3 1/4 in. (8.3 cm); Diam. of rowel 2 1/16 in. (5.2 cm); Wt. 3.2 oz. (90.7 g)
Equestrian Equipment-Spurs
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1904
Accession Number:
Not on view
This pair of rowel spurs, gilded overall, is richly adorned with an etched and enameled decoration, featuring flowers, leaves, and trophies of arms. Even the inside of the branches is etched with vegetal scrolls and a grotesque mask on the heel. This type of decoration matches some armors made in France in the early 17th century.

In the first half of the 17th century, the fashion trend for gentlemen was to wear boots and spurs even in non-riding circumstances, including for dancing or walking around at court. Spurs became then more than equestrian tools, but pieces of male jewelry often enriched by the same goldsmiths also working on armor and weapons. Their decoration was sometimes intended to match the sword hilt and the general outfit and horse tack of their owner. These trendy accessories were also a significant mark of status for gentlemen, sometimes nonetheless copied by the bourgeoisie. This fashion progressively disappeared after the mid 17th century.
Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, Duc de Dino
Louisville. J. B. Speed Art Museum. "A Loan Exhibition of Equestrian Equipment from the Metropolitan Museum of Art," May 4–July 3, 1955.

Grancsay, Stephen V. Loan Exhibition of Mediaeval and Renaissance Arms and Armor from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1953. p. 17, no. 40.

Grancsay, Stephen V. A Loan Exhibition of Equestrian Equipment from the Metropolitan Museum of Art: Catalogue. Louisville, Ky.: Speed Art Museum, 1955. no. 97, ill. (04.3.170).

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