Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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Morion for the Bodyguard of the Prince-Elector of Saxony

Date:
ca. 1600
Geography:
probably Nuremberg
Culture:
German, probably Nuremberg
Medium:
Steel, gold, brass, leather, textile
Dimensions:
H. 16 1/4 in. (41.3 cm); W. 14 7/8 in. (37.8 cm); D. 14 11/16 in. (37.3 cm); Wt. 4 lb. 8.6 oz. (2058.2 g)
Classification:
Helmets
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1904
Accession Number:
04.3.225
Not on view
The electors of Saxony appear to have been the only German princes in the sixteenth century to outfit their bodyguards with matching equipment. The guards' helmets are etched and gilt on one side with the coat of arms of the dukedom of Saxony and on the other side with the crossed swords that signify the duke's office as archmarshal of the Holy Roman Empire. The gilt decoration was originally contrasted with black painted surfaces (some now polished bright). The black and gold derived from the Saxon coat of arms and were also the colors of the guards' livery. This helmet was made by armorers in Nuremberg. Another example (1989.288) in the Metropolitan Museum's collection is dated 1568. The only dated morion of this series known, it establishes the creation and use of the guard morions in the reign of August I (1553–86), twenty to thirty years earlier than previously thought.
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