Cuirassier Armor

Gauntlets (hand defenses) wrought by Zacharias Bitterlein, German (active Augsburg), born c. 1567. Remainder attributed to the armorer Hans Roth, German (active Augsburg), recorded 1613 - 1643, died before 1653.

Made in Augsburg, Germany, Europe

c. 1620

Formerly blued or purpled steel (now russet colored); brass; leather; silk

Curatorial Department:
European Decorative Arts and Sculpture

* Gallery 247, Arms and Armor, second floor (Kretzschmar von Kienbusch Galleries)

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Bequest of Carl Otto Kretzschmar von Kienbusch, 1977

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This exceptional armor, evidently made for a corpulent man, is complete and retains its original leather and silk lining. It was wrought by the last two master armorers active in Augsburg, a German center famous for the high quality of its production, when armor had ceased to be a standard form of body protection on the battlefield.

The armorers' mastery of their craft is evident in the splendid shape of the heavy close helmet, and in the brilliant blue and purple sheen that once adorned the surface of the whole armor, traces of which are still visible on the gauntlet cuffs. By carefully heating the metal plates to specific temperatures, skilled armorers could create a range of colorful oxidations on their surfaces. Old inventories mention the existence of "violet" armors but very few examples survive today.

* Works in the collection are moved off view for many different reasons. Although gallery locations on the website are updated regularly, there is no guarantee that this object will be on display on the day of your visit.