Anime Cuirass, Small Garniture for Battle - ROM2011_12051_1


Anime Cuirass, Small Garniture for Battle

Maker: Erasmus Kirkener
Medium:Steel, brass
Geography: Greenwich, England
Date: c. 1550-1575
86.5 x 53.5 cm
Object number: 931.49.19.1
On view
Gallery Location:Samuel European Galleries
DescriptionThis is the surviving part of an armour made at Henry VIII's famous Greenwich Royal Workshop by the great master armourer Erasmus Kirkener (1519-1574) for William Herbert (1501-1570), 1st Earl of Pembroke. It is cited in a 1558 inventory from Wilton House in Wiltshire. Composed of overlapping horizontal lames of steel held together by internal leather straps and sliding rivets, the breastplate and backplate are of a type known as an "anime." Influenced by Italian design, animes played an important part in armour designed by Kirkener between 1550 and 1560. The ROM's anime is one of only three of those made at Greenwich that survive in public collections. Typically Kirkener's animes formed the core parts of armour "garnitures," with interchangeable parts added or subtracted for different purposes. The Pembroke armour in the ROM would have formed the main part of what was known as a "small garniture," which could be made up for infantry, and for light or heavy cavalry use. The ROM's anime of the Earl of Pembroke shows affinities with fashionable dress of the 1550s. It has the same shaped waistline and silhouette of the civilian jacket or doublet. And more accurately than any painting or sculpture could have done, this custom-made armour records the physical dimensions of a Tudor aristocrat. This armour could very easily have been worn by someone who was 5'8", 5'9", probably even 5'10". Here, in the form of a steel exoskeleton, we encounter the real person who once wore the armour.
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