Pommel Plate

French or Flemish

Not on view

While many saddle steels have some degree of embossed ornament, very few include figural representations or narrative scenes. The densely detailed style of the embossed, chiseled, and gilt decoration of this pommel plate is a notable exception, and one that allows it to be identified as belonging to a small group of rare parade armors made in France or Flanders in the last quarter of the sixteenth century. Particuarly close in style to this piece are another pommel plate in the Wallace Collection, London (A424), a pair of full leg defenses in the Museo Stibbert, Florence (1021), and an incomplete half-armor with a close helmet and arm defenses in the Deutsches Historisches Museum, Berlin (1022). All share the same highly idiosyncratic style of rendering human figures, horses, trees, and landscapes, which are spread over the entire surface of the plates, gilded overall, and lacking any of the ornamental borders or cartouches that usually surround decoration of this type. The subjects depicted are derived from classical history and mythology. At the center of this pommel plate there is a prominent figure, wearing antique-style armor and mounted on a rearing horse, who possibly represents the legend of the Roman hero Marcus Curtius.

Pommel Plate, Steel, gold, French or Flemish

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