Ⓦ AN IMPORTANT SOUTH GERMAN ETCHED, GILT AND EMBOSSED CLOSED BURGONET, AUGSBURG, CIRCA 1555-60...
Ⓦ AN IMPORTANT SOUTH GERMAN ETCHED, GILT AND EMBOSSED CLOSED BURGONET, AUGSBURG, CIRCA 1555-60, THE ETCHING ATTRIBUTED TO JÖRG SORG THE YOUNGER formed of a rounded one-piece skull rising to a high notched medial comb, pierced at the nape with five small rivet-holes for the attachment of a missing plume-holder and to either side of it with four lace-holes, peak, face-guard and bevor attached by common pivots with domed foliate heads, the broad peak of ogival form, the face-guard pierced with four large trapezoidal apertures and secured at the right by a spring-catch, the bevor pierced at each side with a circular arrangement of seven holes, shaped to the chin and secured to the right of the skull by a hook acting on a pierced spring-catch with push-button release, fitted with falling buffe of three lames, each secured by a spring-catch on the right, the bevor flanged outwards at the base to receive a single front lame (the lowest missing), the nape fitted at the rear with two neck-lames, the principle edges notched en suite with the skull, decorated throughout with embossed, etched and gilt designs comprising on each side of the comb, the skull, the peak and the gorget-plates broad bands filled with large expanded flowerheads and foliage on a blackened and stippled ground within a framework of interlace, the latter issuant with tulip-shaped flowerheads, the face-guard decorated with cherubic masks, foliage and trophies-of-music on the vertical bars, the bevor with a rosette on each side, the secondary borders decorated with matching interlace (areas of pitting and patination)
34.5 cm; 13 ⅝ in high
Part proceeds to benefit The Wallace Collection
A private European Collection
This previously unrecorded helmet belongs to an elaborate garniture including a close helmet, gauntlet for the left hand, breast and backplate, now preserved in the Philadelphia Museum of Art (acc. no. 1977.167.109a-n), a front skirt lame preserved in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (acc. no. 04.3.278), a vamplate preserved in the Musée de l' Armée, Paris (K.Po.2341), and a saddle sold Christie's London, 18th April 1985, lot 40.
Its distinctive ornament identifies it as part of a group of at least five very closely related designs including that occurring on an armour made for Don Garcia de Toledo, Marqués de Villafranca and Viceroy of Sicily, by Anton Peffenhauser and decorated by Jörg Sorg. The design on the present helmet closely matches it with the added embellishment of tulip-like flowerheads emerging from its borders. The inclusion of tulips is possibly a reference to the Ottoman empire, the flowers having been documented, apparently for the first time, in the spring of 1555 by the Imperial ambassador at the court of Suleyman the Magnificent. The decorative scheme is also comparable to that of the celebrated 'Flower pattern' and 'Burgundy Cross' armours of Philip II made in 1550 and 1551 respectively (inv. nos. A217, A 219 and A263). See Don Juan 1898, pp. 74-75 and pp. 86-89.
Jorg Sorg, the son of a painter of the same name, was born in Augsburg around 1522. His mother was the daughter of the celebrated armourer Kolman Helmschmied. It is likely that he learnt his trade in his father's studio and was received into the Augsburg Painters Guild as a master in 1548. In 1564 he is recorded living next door to the armourer Wilhelm Seusenhofer and in 1575 he became guardian of the motherless son of the armourer Matthäus Fraunpreiss II. His importance as a decorator of armour is documented by an album of his designs dating to 1548-63 in which a number of armourers and patrons for which he worked are recorded. The latter includes a number of prominent members of the Hapsburg courts in both Austria and Spain. Don Garcia de Toledo is represented by a garniture of three armours dated 1551 in the manuscript.
The armour garniture reached its greatest and most elaborate extent around the middle of the 16th century. The "Eagle" garniture made for Ferdinand II, Archduke of Tyrol, in 1547 comprised eighty-seven interchangeable pieces that could produce twelve different armours for different forms of combat. Though clearly functional such armours had become increasingly powerful status symbols.
See Becher, Gamber and Irtenkauf 1980, pp. 64-7, fol. 19-20; Del Campo 2009, pp. 228-92 cat. nos. 46-7 and pp. 239-243, cat. no. 50; Kienbusch 1963, pp. 37-38, no. 23; Norman 1986, pp. 83-86; and Tavares 2014, p. 118. Laking, Vol. 3, pp. 310-17.
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