About This Artwork

Italian, Milan

Garniture for Field and Foot Tourney at the Barriers, About 1575

Steel with gilding, brass, and leather
H. 177.8 cm (70 in.)

George F. Harding Collection, 1982.2102b-l

Chivalry—with its connotation of the knightly ideal—was intimately connected with the horse (cheval in French). A knight took care to protect his mount, on which he was dependent for the mobility and speed required in both attack and retreat. In Roman times, some heavy cavalry used armor made of iron or bronze scales to protect their horses. From the twelth century on, knights covered their steeds in bands of iron mail (a network of interlocking rings). By the fifteenth century, full-plate armors were not uncommon. This shaffron, or headpiece, is etched in gilt bands with decoration on a finely dotted ground. Riveted between the eyes is an elongated conical spike, perhaps inspired by the horn of the mythical unicorn. A manifestation of great power and wealth, the shaffron has been valued for centuries as an object of beauty, not just as a tool of warfare and sport.

— Entry, Essential Guide, 2009, p. 190.

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

"Italian Armor for Princely Courts: Renaissance Armor from the Trupin Family Trust and the George F. Harding Collection"/ AIC, 1986.

Publication History

James Wood, "A Record of Sharing with Chicago's Masterpiece," A Supplement to the 1982-83 Annual Report (Chicago, 1983), p. 31 (ill.)

Walter Karchieski, "Arms and Armor in the Art Institute of Chicago" (Art Institute of Chicago/Little, Brown, and Company, New York, 1995), p. 30 (ill.)

Ownership History

Marquis de Dos Aguas, Valencia before 1927; sold to George F. Harding, Jr. (d. 1939); transferred to the George F. Harding Museum; transferred to the Art Institute of Chicago, 1982.

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