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These gauntlets were probably part of an armour presented in 1585 by Charles Emmanuel I, Duke of Savoy to the King Philip III of Spain, when the Duke married Philip's cousin, Infante Catalina. Of all the possessions of the sixteenth century nobleman, none spoke more powerfully of his honour, wealth and status than his armour.

Gauntlets were the most intricately made components in defensive armour, protecting the hands but at the same time allowing them to grip and flex while wielding weapons or holding a horse's reins. Armours for tournaments and parades were decorated according to the latest fashion and their cost made them the preserve only of the very wealthy. During the mid-16th century a new fashion emerged in Europe for arms and armour based on the forms found in classical art. High relief embossing and rich gold damascening decorated parade armour alla romana antica (in the ancient roman style).

The decoration is in the style of the workshop of Lucio Piccinino (born around 1535, active around 1570-1589) of Milan. Piccinino was an armour embosser and damascener. He had, claimed Paolo Morigia in his La Nobilita' di Milano, published in 1595, “in his ornamentation of iron in relief with figures, animals and grotesque masks, etc., and likewise in his damascened work, produced masterpieces which are among the most choice and precious.”

Details

  • Title: Pair of gauntlets
  • Creator: Piccinino, Lucio
  • Date Created: 1580/1589
  • Location: Milan
  • Provenance: Bequeathed by D. M. Currie
  • Medium: Steel, embossed and damascened with gold and silver

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