‘Maximillian’ breastplate. Etched in the manner of the ‘Danube School’, Italian, circa 1520. Steel, 40 x 40 cm (15.7 x 15.7 in.) © Peter Finer
It is conceivable that this breastplate formed part of the gift of armour from the Austrian Imperial Armoury made in about 1800 by the Emperor to Count Breuner of Vienna which is believed to have formed the nucleus of the Grafenegg collection. Formed of a strongly rounded main plate with bold angular outward turn at its straight neck-opening, movable gussets with matching turns at its arm-openings, waist-lame and skirt of four upward-overlapping lames, the lowest embossed outwards over the crotch, decorated over the greater part of the main plate and at either side of the skirt with bold flutes of V-section, alternately etched with bands of scrolling foliage and strap-work on a stippled and blackened ground, and bands of linear and hatched scrolling foliage and flower-heads, repeated on the gussets, the remaining areas etched with scrolling foliage and strap-work variously terminating in stylised flower-heads, monsters’ heads, wings and legs, and involving beneath the centre of the neck-opening a representation of the Virgin and Child attended by angels.
Provenance: Private collection, Austria; sold at Sotheby’s & Co, 26 May 1933, lot 80, p. 17