Royal Armouries

Model Armoured Figure

Images

LOK II.394 model armour

Model of a late 16th century cuirassier armour (II.394)

  • LOK II.394 model armour

    Model of a late 16th century cuirassier armour (II.394)

  • watercolour of a line of armoured figures on horseback

  • monochrome pencil and ink sketch of a line of armoured figures on horseback

    The Horse Armoury, by an unknown artist, early 19th century

  • LOK II.394 model armour

    The model armour II.394 from a detail of a drawing, 'Line of Kings in the Horse Armoury'. British, early 19th century (I.277)

Object number: II.394

Statistics

Object Provenance: European, late 16th century
Object Number: II.394
Height: 60 cm (23.6 in)

Model Armoured Figure

Description

Painted wooden figure dressed in armour and carrying a long spear. The figure’s wooden head, hands, torso and legs are held in position by being nailed into the armour and it is painted overall. The steel armour comprises tassets, cuirass (breast and backplate) and a gorget, and shows attention to detail with its roped edges, separate arm gussets and the fact that the tassets are made from individual lames. It is also fitted with a small codpiece. However where the figure is hidden by the armour, its finish is cruder and unpainted.

The wooden elements of the figure are completely separate apart from the legs which are attached to the torso by dowels. The legs end in disproportionately large knee-boots. The head and helmet are carved from a single piece of wood, with detailed ears, facial hair and wavy hair. There is a lead weight attached to the base of the neck, appearing to act as a counterbalance, but is too small to perform this function.

A label is attached to the back of the neck reads ‘B-d Exeter. Restored 1867’. So far it has proved impossible to uncover anything more about this restoration.

The figure was cleaned and restored and a report produced on it by Alison Guppy, then of Royal Armouries conservation department, prior to its redisplay in 1998 on the East side of the White Tower Entrance Floor displays.

Little is known of the original function of this figure. It has been suggested that it might have been an animatronic jack for a clock, and miniature suits of armour were produced as children’s toys – see Clifford and Watts ‘An Introduction to Princely Armours and Weapons of Childhood’, Royal Armouries, 2003, pp.42 -43. Although not drawn to the visitor’s attention in the early guidebooks, it is clearly visible on a pillar behind the main line in both a watercolour wash of the Horse Armoury and Rowlandson and Pugin’s view dated 1809. So far it has not been identified in any of the images of the New Horse Armoury displays (1827 – 1882) or individually mentioned in the guidebooks.

References

A. Guppy, ‘An armoured figure destined for the Line of Kings,’ Royal Armouries Yearbook, 4, 1999: 179-81

Statistics

Object Provenance: European, late 16th century
Object Number: II.394
Height: 60 cm (23.6 in)

Themes Menu

Line of Kings