Art/ Collection/ Art Object

"Blind" Shaffron (Horse's Head Defense) for the Joust

ca. 1490; rondel, late 19th century
Steel, brass, textile, leather
H. 21 1/4 in. (54.1 cm); W. 10 7/8 in. (27.6 cm); D. 3 1/2 in. (8.9 cm); Wt. 5 lb. 13 oz. (2638 g)
Equestrian Equipment-Shaffrons
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1904
Accession Number:
Not on view
Jousts were friendly contests fought by two mounted participants armed with lances, with the object of unseating the opponent or at least breaking one's lance squarely on the other contestant's shield or helmet. Well-trained horses for the joust were extremely expensive and were usually protected with armor. The shaffron was often "blind"––that is, the eyes were covered so as to prevent the horse from shying away at the opponent's approach. (The rondel attached to this example is a late nineteenth-century restoration.)
[Philibert Bachereau, Paris, 1880s (?), sold to Ressman before 1899]; Constantin Ressman, Paris (before d. 1899; sold to Duc de Dino (as part of composite armor) for Fr 30,000) ; Charles Maurice Camille de Talleyrand-Périgord Duc de Dino, Paris (by 1899–1904; sold to MMA).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Armored Horse in Europe," February 15, 2005–January 15, 2006, no. 6.

Cosson, Charles Alexander. Le Cabinet d'Armes de Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, Duc de Dino. Paris: E. Rouveyre, 1901. pp. 12–13, no. A. 3, pl. 2.

Dean, Bashford, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Catalogue of European Arms and Armor. Metropolitan Museum of Art Handbook, Vol. 15. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1905. pp. 75, 77, fig. 39.

Dean, Bashford. Handbook of Arms and Armor: European and Oriental, Including the William H. Riggs Collection, the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: Gilliss Press, January 1915. pp. 114–15, fig. 70.

Laking, Guy Francis, Charles Alexander Cosson, and Francis Henry Cripps-Day. A Record of European Armour and Arms Through Seven Centuries. Vol. 2. London: G. Bell and Sons, 1920. pp. 127–128, fig. 469.

Dean, Bashford. Handbook of Arms and Armor: European and Oriental, Including the William H. Riggs Collection, the Metropolitan Museum of Art. 3rd ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, April 1921. pp. 114–15, fig. 70.

Dean, Bashford, and Robert T. Nichol. Handbook of Arms and Armor, European and Oriental, edited by Stephen V. Grancsay. 4th ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, October 1930. pp. 114–15, fig. 70.

Nickel, Helmut. "The Little Knights of the Living-Room Table." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, n.s., 25, no. 4 (December 1966). p. 179, no. 20, ill.

Thomas, Bruno, and Ortwin Gamber. Katalog der Leibrüstkammer, I. Teil, Der Zeitraum von 500 bis 1530. Vienna: Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, 1976. pp. 140–42, 146, 156–57 (similar shaffrons, nos. B4, B19a, B66b, B87b, B137c, B139, B151, B173b, B174d, B180b, B182d).

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. 34–35, no. 6, ill.

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