Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Escutcheon Plate of a Shaffron (Horse's Head Defense)

ca. 1530–40
probably Augsburg
German, probably Augsburg
Steel, gold
H. 7 in. (17.9 cm); W. 4 1/2 in. (11.5 cm); Wt. 3 oz. (82 g)
Equestrian Equipment-Shaffrons
Credit Line:
Purchase, Mr. and Mrs. Ronald S. Lauder Gift, 1985
Accession Number:
Not on view
Escutcheon plates probably developed from early reinforces but were later employed primarily for the display of dynastic arms or personal imprese. Occasionally they also incorporated more fanciful motifs of purely decorative type such as this highly original and rare example of anthropomorphic shape and classical decoration. While the motif of a mooress holding a shield reflects the European fascination with "exotic" races, the scene on the shield represents Hercules battling the river god Acheloüs in the guise of a bull. One of his horns, broken off during the fight, was later given to the Goddess of Plenty, the cornucopia henceforth becoming her symbol (two such cornucopiae are embossed above the figure of Hercules).
Rainer Daehnhardt, Cascais, Portugal (said to have been purchased at El Rastro flea market, Madrid; until 1985; sale, Christie's, London, November 13, 1985, no. 79, to MMA).
Lisbon. Torre de Belém. "XVII Exposição Europeia de Arte, Ciẽncia e Cultura. Os Descobrimentos Portugueses e a Europa do Renascimento. A mão que ao Ocidente o Véu Rasgou. Armaria dos Séculos XV a XVIII," May 7–October 2, 1983, no. 113 (lent by Rainer Daenhardt).

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Armored Horse in Europe," February 15, 2005–January 15, 2006, no. 12.

Stöcklein, Hans. Turnierzug: Hans Burgkmair Des Älteren. Munich: Verlag für Historischen Waffenkunde, 1924. opp. p. 18 (drawing of Madrid horse armor A149, which was previously thought to have been related to this escutcheon).

Arendt, Wsewolod. "Ein Werk des Kunz Lochner in der Moskauer Rüstkammer." Zeitschrift für historische Waffen- und Kostümkunde (1936), pp. 70–72 (a similar escutcheon illustrated).

European Exhibition of Art, Science, and Culture. XVII Exposição Europeia De Arte, Ciência E Cultura: Os Descobrimentos Portugueses e a Europa Do Renascimento (XVII European Exhibition of Art, Science, and Culture: the Portuguese Discoveries and Renaissance Europe). Lisbon: Montepio Geral, 1984. no. 113 (called German, end of the 15th century, lent by R. Daenhardt).

Christie, Manson & Woods. Antique Arms and Armour. London: Christie, Manson & Woods, November 13, 1985. p. 35, no. 79, ill.

Nickel, Helmut. "Curatorial Reports and Departmental Accessions." Annual Report of the Trustees of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (1985), pp. 16–17, ill.

Wallace Collection and A.V.B. Norman. European Arms and Armour Supplement. Wallace Collection Catalogues. London: Printed for the Trustees by Balding + Mansell, 1986. p. 70, no. A187 (a horse armor in the Kremlin Armory, no. 5179, which features a similar escutcheon, discussed).

Pyhrr, Stuart W., Donald J. La Rocca, and Dirk H. Breiding. The Armored Horse in Europe, 1480–1620. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2005. pp. 42–44, no. 12, ill.

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