Painted Italian Helmet and Breast Plate, 17th-18th century

This set is a rare Italian painted helmet and matching breastplate from Pisa during the 17th century with characteristic 18th century alterations. The breast-plate is incised on the inside with a large T for Tramontana and the helmet interior is painted with a large letter T also for Tramontana, together with the letter A and numbered 50. The helmet is decorated with a Maltese cross of the Order of the Knights of Saint Stephen on each side at the rear, the breast-plate en suite, the cross painted large over the center, and all on a contrasting white painted ground.

The Holy Military Order of The Knights of Saint Stephen, Pope and Martyr was instituted by Cosimo I de Medici, on October 1st, 1561, and consecrated in Pisa on March 15, 1562, by the nuncio of Pope Pius IV. The goal of the Order was to defend the Catholic faith and to eradicate the Muslim pirates from the Mediterranean. The St. Stephen Order was headquartered in a Pisan palace and the Knights took responsibility for the presidency and the refereeing of the Gioco del Ponte; they were also involved in the supply of equipment and the administration of some sections. The command of the sections was given either to a member of the Grand-ducal family, to a high-ranking officer of the Medici’s or to a Pisan aristocrat.


Burgonet: A mermaidlike siren forming the helmet’s comb holds a grimacing head of Medusa by the hair. The sides of the helmet are covered with acanthus scrolls inhabited by putti, a motif derived from ancient Roman sculpture and wall paintings. Dated 1543.

Filippo Negroli (ca. 1510–1579)


A display of 16th and 17th century armour at the Burrell Collection in Glasgow.

The Burgonet is from either Germany or Italy and made in 1570. Helmets like this were often used by light cavalry as the open face allowed better visability upon the battlefield but provided little protection for the face.

The pauldrons are from Italy and were made in 1620. They were possible used by an officer in the Papal guard.

There is no information provided about the backplate.


A portrait of two Italian prisoners of war captured by the Austrian army, in Dornberk, Slovenia, 1916. 

Original image source: Austrian National Library

GWIC will be posting one portrait each day until November 11th.



Filippo Negroli  (Italian, Milan, ca. 1510–1579)

Date:dated 1543

Culture:Italian, Milan

Medium:Embossed steel damascened with gold

Dimensions:H. 9 ½ in. (24.13 cm) Gr. W. 7 5/16 in. (18.57 cm) Wt. 4 lb. 2 oz. (1871 gm)


This masterpiece of Renaissance metalwork is signed on the browplate by Filippo Negroli, whose embossed armor was praised by sixteenth-century writers as “miraculous” and deserving “immortal merit.” Formed of one plate of steel and patinated to look like bronze, the bowl is raised in high relief with motifs inspired by classical art. The graceful mermaidlike siren forming the helmet’s comb holds a grimacing head of Medusa by the hair. The sides of the helmet are covered with acanthus scrolls inhabited by putti, a motif ultimately derived from ancient Roman sculpture and wall paintings

Burgonet Date: ca. 1550–55 Culture: Italian, Milan Medium: Embossed, etched, and partly gilt steel Dimensions: Weight, 4 lb. 9 oz. (2069.5 g) Height, 15 ½ in. (39.37 cm) Height of comb, 2 ½ in. (6.35 cm) Greatest width, 9 in. (22.86 cm) Classification: Helmets Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1904 Accession Number: 04.3.223

An American soldier firing a bazooka at an Axis target 300 yards distant near Lucca, Italy, September 7, 1944.