Viscontea Helmet

Master armorer

Northern Italy, the 16th century

Material: Forged iron

Size: cm 30 High

review by gherardo turchi

This helmet is a rare and precious “Viscontea” helmet in forged iron, made in one of those flourishing workshops of master armorers active in Northern Italy during the last quarter of the sixteenth century.

The Viscontea, used for ancient helmets, indicates those sallet helmets that mounted ventails decorated with vertical grooves, opposite to those called the Savoyard, in which the grooves were horizontal.

The art of forging was a peculiarity of a few and great master armorers who, with love and dedication, combined their gift with the passion for ars belli, creating real works of admirable talent and sublime style. An example is this helmet, presumably part of a larger defensive outfit, which was then dismantled or lost over the centuries.

A careful analysis of its construction and the metals used shows that the same was made during the third quarter of the sixteenth century, in those workshops active in northern Italy, usually subdued to the local nobility or, more presumably, to ecclesiastical power, particularly strong in this area at the time.

This work has engraved grooves on the skull, recalling the decoration on the entire gorget, and has gilded brass rivets embellishments.This helmet is in an excellent state of conservation, with its locking hook for the ventail still on, as evidence of how it was relevant and essential over the centuries.

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