Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History



  • Armor of George Clifford, Third Earl of Cumberland, ca. 1580–85
    Made in the Royal Workshops
    English (Greenwich)
    Steel, etched, blued, and gilded

    H. 69 1/2 in. (176.5 cm), Wt. 60 lb. (27.2 kg)
    Munsey Fund, 1932 (32.130.6)

    George Clifford (1558–1605) was appointed Queen's Champion in 1590 and was made a Knight of the Garter two years later. He is best remembered for his capture of the Spanish fort in San Juan, Puerto Rico, in 1598. A favorite of Queen Elizabeth I (r. 1558–1603), he chose for the decoration of this armor the Tudor rose, the French fleur-de-lis (then part of the English arms), and the cipher of Elizabeth, two E's back to back.

    The Cumberland armor consists of a garniture for field and tournament use. It was made in the Royal Workshops at Greenwich under the direction of the master armorer Jacob Halder (documented 1558–1605). The complete garniture is illustrated in the Jacob Album, a late sixteenth-century manuscript of pen-and-wash drawings that records the decorated armors produced in the Greenwich workshops. The surviving pieces are the man's armor and several exchange or reinforcing elements—a grandguard (defense for the lower face and upper left torso), a passguard (defense for the left elbow), four vamplates (hand defenses affixed to the lance) for the tilt, and a close helmet with detachable visor reinforce for the tournament fought on foot. The horse armor consists of a chanfron (head defense) and saddle plates.

    The Cumberland armor, the best preserved, most extensive armor garniture from the Royal Workshops at Greenwich, represents the technical and decorative peak of the Greenwich school.

    This work of art also appears on Connections: The Tudors

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    On view: Gallery 371
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    Armor of George Clifford, Third Earl of Cumberland, ca. 1580–85
    Made in the Royal Workshops
    English (Greenwich)
    Steel, etched, blued, and gilded

    H. 69 1/2 in. (176.5 cm), Wt. 60 lb. (27.2 kg)
    Munsey Fund, 1932 (32.130.6)


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