Set of Saddle Steels, Steel, Italian

Set of Saddle Steels

ca. 1550 to 1575
27.159.14a; H. 8 1/2 in. (21.6 cm); W. 11 1/4 in. (28.6 cm); Wt. 9 oz. (255.1 g); 27.159.14b; H. 10 1/4 in. (26 cm); W. 6 1/2 in. (16.5 cm); Wt. 7.7 oz. (218.3 g); 27.159.14c; H. 10 1/4 in. (26 cm); W. 6 1/2 in. (16.5 cm); Wt. 6.3 oz. (178.6 g); 27.159.14d; H. 6 1/2 in. (16.5 cm); W. 12 in. (30.5 cm); Wt. 13.6 oz. (385.6 g); 27.159.14e; H. 6 1/2 in. (16.5 cm); W. 12 in. (30.5 cm); Wt. 13.1 oz. (371.4 g)
Saddle Plates
Credit Line:
Gift of George D. Pratt, 1927
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 371
This complete set of saddle steels is part of an unusually large armor garniture (acc. no. 27.159.1) from the armory of the Dos Aguas family in Valencia, Spain. The saddle tree and its embroidered velvet cover were made in the early 20th century, based on 16th century examples. The garniture contains pieces for use in battle and for the tilt in both the Italian and German fashions. The tilt was a tournament fought on horseback between two opponents armed with lances and separated by a lengthwise barrier.

The armor as mounted is equipped with a helmet and vambraces (arm defenses) for the tournament. The buffe (chin defense), second breastplate (27.159.2), and manifer (reinforced left gauntlet) (27.159.6) would have been added to make the armor ready for exchange pieces for different forms of the tournament. For the German tilt, the trellised targe (shield) (27.159.7), small elbow defense (27.159.5), and small stomach defense (27.159.3) were added. For the Italian tilt, these elements were replaced by the form-fitting reinforce covering the left half of the torso and left shoulder (mezzo sovrapetto) (27.159.2) and the larger elbow defense (soprabracciale) (27.159.4).

The garniture also includes two complete sets of saddle steels (27.159.13, .14) (only one is exhibited) and two vamplates (conical hand defenses affixed to the lance) (27.159.8, .9). The decoration consisting of etched bands containing trophies of arms and musical instruments was a popular design found in many variations in Italy throughout the second half of the sixteenth century.
Ex. coll.: Guillermo Casanova, Marqués de Dos Aguas, Valencia, Spain.
Indianapolis. Indianapolis Museum of Art. "Treasures from the Metropolitan," October 25, 1970–January 3, 1971, no. 33.

Dean, Bashford. "Recent Accessions in the Armor Department." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 23, no. 1 p. 16.

Gamber, Ortwin. "Der Italienische Harnische im 16 Jahrhundert." Jahrbuch der Kunsthistorischen Sammlungen in Wien (1958), p. 104.

Indianapolis Museum of Art. Treasures from the Metropolitan: Catalogue of the Inaugural Exhibition of the Indianapolis Museum of Art, October 25, 1970–January 3, 1971, edited by Carl J. Weinhardt Jr. Indianapolis: Indianapolis Museum of Art, 1970. p. 46, no. 33, ill.

La Rocca, Donald J. How to Read European Armor. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2017. p.77, fig. 89.