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Gauntlet

  • Place of origin:

    Italy (Northern, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1580 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Etched and gilt steel

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Major Victor Alexander Farquharson

  • Museum number:

    M.466-1927

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This gauntlet provided armoured protection for the right hand. Despite its obvious protective requirements, armour was every bit as fashion-dependent as clothing. From the middle of the sixteenth century European fashions were dominated by Spanish styles which combined restrained forms with strong outlines of opulent decoration. Both clothing and armour emphasised a narrower silhouette than was fashionable earlier in the century. Decoration was contained within the body shape in the form of bands of etched ornament on armour and embroidery on clothing.

The etching decoration on this gauntlet is characteristic of the armour produced in northern Italy and southern Germany. Etching creates a two-dimensional surface decoration to contrast with plainer areas of polished metal. It was used as ornament on both fighting and parade armour from the late fifteenth century. The blades of ceremonial weapons in the late sixteenth century were also commonly decorated this way.

The technique involves coating an already -formed object with an acid-resistant substance such as wax and then engraving the wax with the desired pattern to reveal the metal underneath. The exposed areas of the metal are then eaten away when the entire surface is coated with acid, so that when the wax is removed a low-relief impression is left on the metal. This was usually blackened to increase the contrast. Low- relief etching made it possible to create highly decorated armours without affecting the structural integrity of the metal.

Physical description

Articulated steel plate gauntlet for the right hand with sharply pointed cuff and roped edges, the knuckles rounded and plain, decorated with etched borders of scrolling foliage and a central band of trophies and instruments. The gauntlet had four rivetted finger plates and a knuckle plate.

Place of Origin

Italy (Northern, made)

Date

ca. 1580 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Etched and gilt steel

Dimensions

Length: 16.9 cm, Width: 12.9 cm, Height: 15.5 cm, Height: 15.5 cm, Width: 13 cm

Object history note

This gauntlet provided armoured protection for the right hand and dates from around 1580. Its style is typical of the armour produced in northern Italy.

The gauntlet was acquired by the Musuem in 1927 as part of the Major Victor Farquharson Bequest. Its provenance before that time is unknown.

Historical context note

Despite its obvious protective requirements, armour was every bit as fashion-dependent as clothing. From the middle of the sixteenth century European fashions were dominated by Spanish styles which combined restrained forms with strong outlines of opulent decoration. Both clothing and armour emphasised a narrower silhouette than was fashionable earlier in the century. Decoration was contained within the body shape in the form of bands of etched ornament on armour and embroidery on clothing.

The etching decoration on this gauntlet is characteristic of the armour produced in northern Italy and southern Germany. Etching creates a two-dimensional surface decoration to contrast with plainer areas of polished metal. It was used as ornament on both fighting and parade armour from the late fifteenth century. The blades of ceremonial weapons in the late sixteenth century were also commonly decorated this way.

The technique involves coating an already -formed object with an acid-resistant substance such as wax and then engraving the wax with the desired pattern to reveal the metal underneath. The exposed areas of the metal are then eaten away when the entire surface is coated with acid, so that when the wax is removed a low-relief impression is left on the metal. This was usually blackened to increase the contrast. Low- relief etching made it possible to create highly decorated armours without affecting the structural integrity of the metal.

Descriptive line

Articulated plate gauntlet for the right hand of etched and gilt steel, Italy, ca. 1580

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Mills, Rosie, "Images in Steel: The Art and Craft of Etched Decoration", The Journal of the Antique Metalware Society, Vol. 19, June 2011, pp. 82-91, ill. p. 84

Materials

Steel

Techniques

Forging (metal forming); Acid etching; Rivetting

Subjects depicted

Scrolling foliage; Trophies

Categories

Arms & Armour; Fashion; Metalwork; Europeana Fashion Project

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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