The decoration of this armor is an outstanding example of German figural etching, inspired by contemporary print sources, as it was used to embellish armor. The etching has been attributed to Daniel Hopfer, a noted printmaker and armor etcher. Hopfer may have pioneered the technique of making prints from an etched metal plate, which revolutionized printmaking in the sixteenth century.
The figures on the breastplate depict major Christian saints and include the Virgin and Child flanked by Saint George and Saint Christopher. On the backplate, Saint Anne with the Virgin and Child is flanked by Saint James the Great and Saint Sebastian. The figure of Saint Sebastian pierced by arrows is copied from a woodcut made about 1507 by Hans Baldung Grien (1484 or 1485–1544).
#4404. Cuirass and Tassets (Torso and Hip Defense)
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Breastplate, detail of upper third of etched decoration
Backplate, detail of upper third of etched decoration
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Title:Cuirass and Tassets (Torso and Hip Defense)
Armorer:Attributed to Kolman Helmschmid (German, Augsburg 1471–1532)
Decorator:Etching attributed to Daniel Hopfer (German, Kaufbeuren 1471–1536 Augsburg)
Dimensions:H. 41 1/2 in. (105.4 cm); Wt. 19 lb. 8 oz. (8845 g)
Credit Line:Gift of Marshall Field, 1938
New York. Brooklyn Museum. "Loan Exhibition of European Arms and Armor," June 12–October 31, 1933, no. 4.
Los Angeles. Los Angeles County Museum of Art. "Loan Exhibition of Mediaeval and Renaissance Arms and Armor from the Metropolitan Museum of Art," January 15–March 18, 1953, no. 5.
San Francisco. California Palace of the Legion of Honor, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. "Loan Exhibition of Mediaeval and Renaissance Arms and Armor from the Metropolitan Museum of Art," April 18–June 7, 1953, no. 5.
Pittsburgh. Department of Fine Arts, Carnegie Institute. "Loan Exhibition of Mediaeval and Renaissance Arms and Armor from the Metropolitan Museum of Art," October 1953–April 1954, no. 5.
National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. "Imperial Augsburg: Renaissance Prints and Drawings, 1475–1540," September 30–December 31, 2012.
Austin. Blanton Museum of Art. "Imperial Augsburg: Renaissance Prints and Drawings, 1475–1540," October 5, 2013—January 5, 2014.
Poughkeepsie. Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Vassar College. "Imperial Augsburg: Renaissance Prints and Drawings, 1475–1540," September 19—December 14, 2014.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Renaissance of Etching," October 21, 2019–January 20, 2020, no. 1.
Meyrick, Samuel R., and Joseph Skelton. Engraved Illustrations of Antient Arms and Armour: From the Collection of Llewelyn Meyrick at Goodrich Court, Herefordshire: After the Drawings, and with the Description of Dr. Meyrick. Vol. 2. London: J. Skelton, 1830. pl. CII (similar decorative motifs).
Oxenham & Sons. A Catalogue of a Matchless Importation of Ancient Foreign Property... [including] Ancient Armour and Arms... Which will be Sold by Auction by Messrs. Oxenham and Sons on Tuesday, the 16th of May 1843, and the following days. London: Oxenham & Sons, May 16–19, 1843. no. 138.
Royal Society of Arts. Catalogue of Works of Antient and Mediaeval Art: Exhibited at the House of the Society of Arts: London, 1850. London: Royal Society of Arts, 1850. p. 81, no. 878.
Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge. Armour and weapons. London: Sotheby, Wilkinson & Hodge, November 10–11, 1920. p. 41, no. 201, pl. XV.
Grancsay, Stephen V., and Brooklyn Museum. Loan Exhibition of European Arms and Armor. Brooklyn: Brooklyn Museum, June–August 1933. p. 4, no. 4, ill.
Grancsay, Stephen V. "Armor with Etching Attributed to Daniel Hopfer." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin (August 1939), pp. 189–92, ill.
Mann, James G. "The Etched Decoration of Armour: A Study in Classification." Proceedings of the British Academy (1940), p. 9, pls. III–IV.
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. pp. 8–9, no. 5, ill.
Grancsay, Stephen V. "The New Galleries of European Arms and Armor." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin (May 1956), pp. 211, 218, ill.
Nickel, Helmut. Warriors and Worthies: Arms and Armor Through the Ages. New York: Atheneum, 1969. p. 73, ill.
Nickel, Helmut. Ullstein-Waffenbuch: eine kulturhistorische Waffenkunde mit Markenverzeichnis. Berlin: Ullstein, 1974. p. 122, ill.
Mickenberg, David. Songs of Glory: Medieval Art from 900–1500: An Exhibition. Oklahoma City, OK: Oklahoma City Museum of Art, 1985.
Grancsay, Stephen V., and Stuart W. Pyhrr. Arms & Armor: Essays by Stephen V. Grancsay from the Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 1920–1964. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1986. pp. 232–236; fig. 77.3,4.
Krause, Stefan. "Der Augusburger Druckgraphiker Daniel Hopfer (1471–1536) als Waffendekorateur." Jahrbuch des Kunsthistorischen Museums Wien (2011–12), pp. 66–67, fig. 8, n. 85.
Pyhrr, Stuart W. "Of Arms and Men: Arms and Armor at the Metropolitan, 1912–2012." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin (Summer 2012), pp. 35–36, fig. 56.
La Rocca, Donald J. How to Read European Armor. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2017. p.100, fig.114; p.101, fig. 115, p. 102, fig. 116; p.103, fig. 118.
Jenkins, Catherine, Nadine Orenstein, Freyda Spira, Peter Fuhring, Donald J. La Rocca, Anne Varick Lauder, Christof Metzger, Femke Speelberg, Ad Stijnman, Pierre Terjanian, and Julia Zaunbauer. The Renaissance of Etching. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2019. pp. 32–33, no. 1, ill.
Armor made from steel plates that covered almost the entire body was developed around the late fourteenth century in Northern Italy, and spread north of the Alps soon after. Most early examples were plain, but by the middle of the fifteenth century armorers began to emboss surfaces with ridges and grooves and add gilt copper-alloy applications, transferring current tastes in civilian fashion to create sumptuous garments of steel.
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