A Fine Breast and Backplate for the Field, in the Manner of Kolman Helmschmid, Etched by or by a Follower of the Printmaker Daniel Hopfer the Elder, c. 1525-30

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Item ref: 4297

  • Germany, Augsburg
  • Steel, leather


Brian Michael Powers, Inc. California, sold 1985-89

A conspicuous feature of the present cuirass is the embossed nodular pattern forming the subsidiary decorative borders on the main plates front and rear, and again about the skirt lame of the backplate. The nodules of these bands (prosaically referred to as Schuppen) are for the greater part semi-circular, varying to a more shield-like shape. Subsequently more widely introduced, this motif appears on armours by several Augsburg makers as late as about 1552-5, including by Kolman’s son, Desiderius Helmschmid.

Within Kolman Helmschid’s work in the period 1520-30 this banded nodular motif appears on a number of armours associated with him. A striking example is his field armour of circa 1525-30, in The Wallace Collection (A 30), on which the nodules are in part ogival. Once again, each segment is filled with an etched symmetrical flourish of foliage scrolling against a granular ground. Notable in consideration of the present cuirass, these small etched flourishes, abundant in much of Hopfer’s etching on armour, may possibly have originated as the peripheral ornament for Hopfer’s design for an architectural capital. A print of the original capital design is in the Philadelphia Museum of Art (1985-52-31000).