Saturday, August 4, 2012

The object of the day: Victorian copy of Milanese barbute

Victorian copy of Milanese barbute c. 1455

Height :11 7/8''
Price: $2450.00 

Elegantly formed one piece skull with rolled lower edge and riveted reinforcement around the facial opening. Complete and in typical condition for genuine examples, most of which come from a small number of find places such as the Venetian arsenal at Chalcis, are preserved in condition relatively uniform for their respective groups.
A few genuine examples in comparable complete and unrestored condition have surfaced in the past half century and are currently valued in the $200,000 range. This example almost certainly was made as a forgery and lacking modern photographic technology, would easily have deceived the many wealthy collectors of the 19th century.

A barbute is a  war helmet without the visor of 14th to 15th century Italian design, often with distinctive "T" shaped or "Y" shaped opening for the eyes and mouth. The barbute resembles classical Greek helmets (most strikingly the Corinthian) and may have been influenced by a renewed interest in ancient artifacts which was common in this period.

The defining characteristic of the barbute is the fact that the shape of the helmet extends all the way down to cover both sides of the face. Regardless of the type of opening—which could be T-shaped, Y-shaped or arch-shaped, this characteristic is practically always present. This made the wearing of a gorget optional. On some examples, there is a central, narrow protrusion extending down from the top of the opening, designed to protect the wearer's nose. Often, barbutes were covered by fabric, most typically heavy velvet.

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