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Morion for the Bodyguard of the Prince-Elector of Saxony

Date:
ca. 1570
Geography:
Nuremberg
Culture:
German, Nuremberg
Medium:
Steel, etched and gilt; gilt brass; leather
Dimensions:
Wt., 4 lb. 4 oz. (1928 g); H., 11 1/2 in. (29.21 cm); W., 11 3/8 in. (28.88 cm); H. of comb, 3 in. (7.62 cm)
Classification:
Helmets
Credit Line:
Gift of William H. Riggs, 1913
Accession Number:
14.25.649
  • Description

    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. Originally, the gilt decoration was 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' uniforms. Both helmets were made by armorers in Nuremberg.
    A similar example also in the Metropolitan Museum's collection (acc. no. 1989.288) is dated 1568. The only dated morion of this series known, it establishes that the creation and use of the guard morions in the reign of August I (1553–86) occurred twenty to thirty years earlier than previously thought.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Marking: Stamped on the left side of the brim in front: Nuremberg guild mark with three circles;

    On the right side of the brim: a tiny N;

    On the inside of the helmet: the letter N.

  • Provenance

    Ex. coll.: Historical Museum, Dresden; Prince Peter Soltykoff, Paris.

  • See also
    What
    Where
    When
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
22236

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