A Breastplate for a Munition Foot Armour or ‘Krebse’, c. 1508-10

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Item ref: 5062

  • Germany, Augsburg
  • Steel, leather

Provenance:

Plausibly included among the four-thousand pieces of munition armour ordered in 1508 from Augsburg, Innsbruck and Nuremberg by the Emperor Maximilian I, the great majority of which were subsequently dispersed from the Vienna City Zeughaus.

This breastplate is an excellent example of the globose type typically worn by foot troops among the armies of The Holy Roman Empire from about 1500-1520. The smooth rounded surface was clearly intended to deflect the impacts of weapons and the one-piece construction of the main plate was a development from the preceding German convention, in which the breastplate comprised an upper and lower plate. Also conventional to the group to which this example belongs, the main plate is constructed with plain angular outward turns at the arm-openings and below the neck, with the former constructed as integral rather than as separate plates.

An Augsburg munition breastplate comparing closely with the present example is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (29.158.154). Similarly, its attributed date of circa 1510 is made on the basis of the emperor’s recorded order and comparison with related pieces preserved in Vienna. The Met example was included and discussed in the recent exhibition ‘The Last KnightThe ArtArmor and Ambition of Maximilian I’, October 7 2019 - January 5 2020.

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