Mar 30, 2020

Breastplate from Hussar's Cuirass

Breastplate from Hussar's Cuirass

c. 1580

Steel (originally blued, now russet), etched and gilded strapwork bands;

Overall: 42.3 x 35 cm (16 5/8 x 13 3/4 in.)

Weight: 2.48 kg (5.47 lbs.)

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. John L. Severance 1916.1521

Did you know?

The breastplate’s contours, like the ridge down the center, were designed to deflect arrows and other projectiles.


This style of breastplate, with its numerous articulating lames, was probably used by a Hungarian hussar, a type of light cavalryman. The steel plates were originally blued-now turned russet-and etched and gilded with strapwork bands. The rows of vertical holes once provided gilt-brass settings for stones or glasspaste jewels. The effect would have suggested the semi-oriental costume and armor of the Near East favored by Polish and Hungarian armies of the late Renaissance.

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