Side Panel of a Crupper


Not on view

Another rare suvival of so-called Gothic horse armor, this side panel of a crupper, now incomplete, differs from another example in the Metropolitan Museum's collection (acc. no. 29.158.606) both in construction and decoration. Its most notable features are the parallel ridges embossed on the surface and the scalloped lower edge. Groups of parallel or flaring ridges were used to decorate plate armor since at least the second quarter of the fifteenth century. Although particularly favored in German-speaking regions, such decoration was also found in Spain, France, and England. Italian armorers frequently employed ridges to ornament armor alla tedesca (in the German fashion), which was made for export north of the Alps. During the first three decades of the sixteenth century, this style of decoration reached its climax: entire surfaces, especially of German armor, were often covered with parallel vertical ridges, today known as fluting. Since the appearance of this style coincides to some extent with the reign of Emperor Maximilian I (1492–1519), armor thus decorated is commonly referred to as Maximilian-style armor.

Here, however, the scalloped lower edge and diagonal ridges bordering the vertical ones argue for a date of manufacture in the closing years of the fifteenth century. Comprising two plates, the panel is subtly embossed over the point of the hip and retains twelve of its original rivets, with heads in the shape of a six-petaled flower. The piece would have been either attached to an upper part of a crupper or suspended from a lighter harness, a system of leather straps fastened over the croup.

Apart from shaffrons, horse armor of the fifteenth century is relatively rare. The Metropolitan Museum's collection includes three crupper elements in the late "Gothic" style: the present example, a left side panel (acc. no. 29.158.606), and––most noteworthy––the right half of a crupper, one of the few surviving elements of fifteenth-century horse armor retaining its original blued and gilt decoration (acc. no. 42.50.34).

Side Panel of a Crupper, Steel, German

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