Detail View: The AMICA Library: Half Armor for the Foot Tournament

AMICA Library Year: 
Object Type: 
Decorative Arts and Utilitarian Objects
Creator Name: 
Cesa, Pompeo della
Creator Nationality: 
European; Southern European; Italian
Creator Role: 
Creator Dates/Places: 
1727 - 1788
Pompeo della Cesa was the most renowned Italian armorer of the late 16th century. His clients included some of the most celebrated noblemen of their day--the two Spanish kings Philip II and III; Alessandro Farnese, Duke of Parma and Piacenza; and Vincenzo I Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua. He is known to have maintained a large workshop in Milan's castle--the so-called Sforza Castle. The original owner of this armor remains unidentified. However, armors made for patrons of noble rank were typically of very high quality like this one. Ostentation was of paramount importance for public spectacles such as tournaments or parades. Most wealthy patrons afforded the additional expense of embellishing their armors. The most frequently used decorative technique for armor was etching, seen here, in which acid was used to 'bite' into exposed surfaces of the armor's steel plates to create permanent patterns. The etched and gilded decoration of this armor features vertical bands of strapwork enclosing cartouches which in turn contain allegorical figures, classical warriors, and trophies. The decoration represents Pompeo's classic style of armor decoration, one which is found on over forty surviving suits. These and other decorative patterns were normally recorded in pattern books from which the prospective client made his selections.
Creator Name-CRT: 
Pompeo della Cesa
Half Armor for the Foot Tournament
Title Type: 
Full View
Creation Date: 
c. 1590
Creation Start Date: 
Creation End Date: 
Materials and Techniques: 
steel, brass, leather and velvet
Classification Term: 
Classification Term: 
Classification Term: 
AMICA Contributor: 
The Cleveland Museum of Art
Owner Location: 
Cleveland, Ohio, USA
ID Number: 
Credit Line: 
John L. Severance Fund
This armor was designed specifically for the foot tournament, a separate event from the equestrian jousts popularized during the Middle Ages and still highly favored among Renaissance aristocracies throughout Europe. Increasingly, these friendly combatson foot evolved their own rules of engagement as well as armor configuration. As they were commonly fought over a barrier which separated the combatants and gave protection to their legs, a half-armor such as this one provided sufficient protection. Theoriginal owner of this suit would have worn it with colorful puffed and slashed britches and hose. The use of colorful accessories such as a large ostrich feather plume (a brass plume holder may be seen on the back of the helmet) and red velvet pecadilsbetween the steel plates would have provided for additional sartorial splendor.
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