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Adam D. Kent-Isaac




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PostPosted: Sat 08 Aug, 2009 12:59 am    Post subject: A strange case of armour plagiarism? Can someone explain it?         Reply with quote

I was doing some research on Christian the Younger of Brunswick, a German military commander during the Thirty Years' War. I was digging through some German websites for information about him when I came across something downright bizarre: a portrait of Duke Christian wearing what appears to be the Greenwich armour of George Clifford, 3rd Earl of Cumberland. This is one of the most famous and distinctive surviving armours in the world, and I have seen it many times, including in person at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, so I was positively baffled when I found this portrait:



As far as I know there is no portrait of Clifford wearing this armour, but here is a photo of it from the Metropolitan (although many here will probably know what it looks like already.)



All the more baffling is the fact that the armour in Christian's portrait seems to be an exact replica of Cumberland's armour but for a few small details, such as the Fleurs de Lis and Tudor Rose symbols, which are not quite right, and the strapwork on the gilded bands which is not quite as distinct. The proportions of the armour in the portrait of Christian also seem altered. Other than that, they are almost perfect matches.

I'm quite confused. There is no earthly reason why the Duke of Braunschweig should be wearing the armor of an English earl, who lived about a half-century earlier and was of no relation to the German noble whatsoever. And yet, there he is, in the painting, wearing it.

Did Christian have a replica of George Clifford's armour made for him? (If so, why?)

Did Christian ask the painter of his portrait to paint him wearing George Clifford's armour? (If so, why?) Did the painter have access to the Elizabethan album from the Greenwich workshop that the original design was from? Or did he have a painting of Clifford's armour, or the armour itself, to use as a model?

I would love it if someone could explain this to me because I'm at an absolute loss here.

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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Sat 08 Aug, 2009 1:54 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Looks similar but in the same way that two things in the same decorative style can look similar and was this general pattern of decoration widely liked or copied ? Could also have been made by the same craftsmen/armourers ? But I have no information about this last bit of speculation.

If I glance at them quickly I could easily believe or remember them as being the same armour but the closer I look the more details I see that are different, spaced differently, with different textural patterns.

If this is plagiarism then every Oakshotts type X sword is plagiarized from the first Type X. Confused Wink Big Grin

Still an interesting question about armour decoration styles. Big Grin Cool

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JG Elmslie
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PostPosted: Sat 08 Aug, 2009 5:02 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Thibodeau wrote:
Looks similar but in the same way that two things in the same decorative style can look similar and was this general pattern of decoration widely liked or copied ? Could also have been made by the same craftsmen/armourers ? But I have no information about this last bit of speculation.

If I glance at them quickly I could easily believe or remember them as being the same armour but the closer I look the more details I see that are different, spaced differently, with different textural patterns.

If this is plagiarism then every Oakshotts type X sword is plagiarized from the first Type X. Confused Wink Big Grin

Still an interesting question about armour decoration styles. Big Grin Cool


as somoene who's done portraiture in the past as an artist, I am extremely sceptical that it is a second harness that conveniently looks so similar, of a pattern so close, with identifiable differences.

I would rather like to know the artist who painted the portrait, as that would likely be of use in identifying the geographical origin of the painting.
my personal suspicion is that this is, in effect, what in modern terminology would be called "shopped". the artist has likely been unable to have access to the model for long, and therefore, used either a body double for the figure work - a body double using the harness of the late George Clifford, as a base reference, with details such as the fleur-de-leys replaced with a sllightly hesitant rendition of a tudor rose, and with Christian the younger's portrait inserted into the figure's place - or, used a reference sketch of the clifford armour drawn previously as the base on which to create a portrait. that latter one is, I suspect the more likely process... I'd like to know more as the artist's work strikes me as being a little bit crude - executions of the feathers and lace seem a bit heavy-handed, and I therefore wonder if the observational skills of the artist in replicating the harness from a preparatory sketch are to blame for some of the proportional inaccuracies of the painting's depiction of the harness.

of course, that's complete conjecture without the original painting to study the brushstrokes and work out which layers cover what... but its my gut instinct on viewing the painting.
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Adam D. Kent-Isaac




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PostPosted: Sat 08 Aug, 2009 5:21 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here's the page with the image on German Wikipedia.

Artist unknown. Cry

Here is a clue though: From Deutsche Wikipedia, it says (translated),

Quote:
"Although he was not one of the most successful commander of the Thirty Years' War, but he certainly stood by its peculiar character out. His main motivation, the Palatine-Winter King Frederick V to support his deep admiration for his wife, Elizabeth Stuart, incidentally, a cousin of Guelph. His troops, he gave the French flag with the slogan: Pour Dieu et pour elle (For God and for them, namely Elisabeth Stuart), as if his disastrous military campaigns (1621-1626) a knight would have been Minne service. In addition, Duke Christian a glove than his cousin Elisabeth crest."


That might explain why he would admire the Cumberland armor, but you'd think that he would have told the painter to emphasize the Fleurs de Lis and not the Tudor roses. Instead, puzzlingly, he did the exact opposite. As an aside, I think this is the only portrait of a one-armed man in armour that I've ever seen. From what I've read of Duke Christian, you would not have wanted to make him unhappy. Maybe he died before that portrait was completed, and the artist avoided being hacked to pieces for his mistake.[/quote]

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Allan Senefelder
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PostPosted: Sat 08 Aug, 2009 6:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If you start doing the math on all the subtle differences, they begin to not be the same harness. Aside from the not so subtle differences in the etched and gold decorative pattern, the bottom lame of the tassets in the portrait has squared corners while the Clifford harness has rounded nearly circular corners, the rebrace ( upper arm harness ) in the portrait is shown as being made of several lames before having a truner while the Clifford armour does not have this, the tassets in the portrtait are proportionally much longer on thier inside/groin edge than the Clifford armour, the helmet shown on the table in in the portrait that goes with the harness is a closed helmet while the helmet of the Clifford armour is an locking armet. The decorative motife on the Clifford armour features fleur de lis prominently while they are completley absent from the portrait armour. Is it possible that the painter may have viewed the Clifford armour and used it as inspiration for the portrait, surely, is it possbile that it was borrowed for this portrait, I don't really know, perhaps, but the armour in the portrait and the Clifford armour are quite a bit a different if inspected closely, its equally as likely that it is a different harness with very similar lines being used for this portrait.
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Adam D. Kent-Isaac




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PostPosted: Sat 08 Aug, 2009 7:19 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yes; the tassets are a dead giveaway that it's a completely different harness, if it in fact even existed as an actual, physical harness at all - it might very well be the complete invention of the artist, an awkward composite of Clifford's Greenwich armour and a cuirassier's harness of the later period, with its wide tassets and short cuirass. For some comparison, here's another portrait of Christian von Braunschweig, but in the kind of armour that he would have actually worn:



That harness is what is typical of all of Christian's contemporaries in their portraits - heavy cuirassier armour with wide tassets that begin right at the bottom of the cuirass and extend all the way down to the knee. From what I've seen, the German Lutherans like Christian tend to wear that sort of plain, blackened armour, while the nobles of the House of Orange preferred theirs to be richly gilt and embossed.

I'm going to go with Allan's theory - the painter of the portrait was inspired by Clifford's design from the Greenwich album (who knows how he wound up seeing it) and decided to adapt it to Christian's portrait. The jury's still out on why he omitted the Fleurs de Lis and replaced them with more of the loop designs that were initially on the armour. Loop, loop, rose. Loop, loop, rose. Who knows. The detail on the armour gets fairly blurry towards the bottom of the tassets.

Very weird coincidence.

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James Arlen Gillaspie
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PostPosted: Sat 08 Aug, 2009 11:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here's your boy. For some history, see
http://www.armsandarmourforum.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=389



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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Sat 08 Aug, 2009 2:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The armour shown in the portrait is sitting in the collection of Ronald Lauder, the son of Estée Lauder (founder of the cosmetics company). As already mentioned, it's a wonderful example of Greenwich armour, but is not the same as the Clifford example. Have a look at this topic for some info on Ronald Lauder and a link to an article about his interest in art and armour collecting.

Attached is a portrait with armour looking to be at least similar to what is discussed here. Additional info would be appreciated.



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Adam D. Kent-Isaac




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PostPosted: Sat 08 Aug, 2009 7:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

James Gillespie - thank you for that! You're an ace.

That portrait looks like it might be of someone from the House of Orange. At first I thought it might have been Justin of Nassau, the son of William the Silent, late in life, but the eyes don't quite match, although the overall shape of the face does. Where did you find that portrait, Nathan?

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PostPosted: Sat 08 Aug, 2009 7:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Adam D. Kent-Isaac wrote:
Where did you find that portrait, Nathan?

I've had it on my hard drive in a very old directory... unfortunately, I wasn't as careful then about labeling things when it was scanned or saved. I'd like to know more about it.

_________


Attached is a photo of the harness in question and comments from Mr. Lauder, the current owner:

(Quote Source: Armor and the Man)

Ronald Lauder wrote:
“I have [a suit of] Greenwich armor … that is very rare,” he begins. The Royal Armory at Greenwich, founded by Henry VIII, was known for extraordinary craftsmanship and design. Lauder’s magnificent blue and gold suit was ordered early in the 17th century by Henry Prince of Wales, son of King James I, as a gift for his not yet adult German cousin, the Duke of Brunswick. Although recorded in the literature, it was thought to have been destroyed in World War II. But in 1981, it turned up in London at a Christie’s arms-and-armor sale, consigned by a European noble family—an important point, since its non-U.K. provenance meant it could not be blocked from export as a national treasure. Word got around, and bidding was keen, with the Royal Armouries taking part. But Ricketts, acting for Lauder, won the suit for £418,000 ($791,274), nearly twice its estimate and an auction record for armor. It took a craftsman two years to clean it, working inch by inch using a tiny needlelike tool. This, of course, added quite a bit to its cost.

As splendid as it was, the suit was not quite complete, missing the gauntlets that would have protected its wearer’s hands. Then a happy accident occurred. At the Met one day, Lauder saw the gauntlets in a case. Because of his long-standing relationship with the department, he was allowed to borrow them. “For the first time in 150 years, the complete suit of armor was reunited,” he reports with evident joy.



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005_AA1208_OBS_006.jpg
A rare suit of Greenwich armor, 1610–13, a favorite of Lauder’s, stands 65 inches tall.

Photo © The Ronald S. Lauder Collection


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Adam D. Kent-Isaac




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PostPosted: Sun 09 Aug, 2009 2:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Nathan, as usual, your wisdom of armour has solved this interesting mystery! Thanks for that link and for the photo especially. What a beautiful harness. I wonder, though, if it was commissioned for Christian when he was not yet an adult, how the armourers were able to produce in advance a suit which would fit him when he was fully grown?

Also notable is that the position of the holes for the lance rest indicate that Christian must have been left-handed. (His left arm was amputated after a battle injury, actually, as can be seen from the first portrait.)

I think George Clifford, 3rd Earl of Cumberland, would be glad to know that his exquisite armour inspired a similar design half a century later. He would also probably be glad to know that people would still be discussing it in the year 2009 - and I am sure that he would be even more glad to know that I had a party at my house last night in honor of his birthday, which was yesterday.

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PostPosted: Sun 09 Aug, 2009 6:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

ah well, and there I was assuming it was just a fairly bad representation...
Awful that such a surviving harness is not well known - and certainly a shame that it's not able to be studied. :/
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Daniel Sullivan




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PostPosted: Sun 09 Aug, 2009 10:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A very interesting discussion. And thanks to those who posted photos.

Concerning the lance rest on Christian's armor: In the first photo, the lifting peg and latching mechanism is on the right side of his helmet, and it is reversed in the last photo (Nathan's post). Although I have seen references to left handed armor, I have yet to see a case. Occasionally you will see a photo in a reference book that has been reversed, i.e. Arms & Armor (Steven Bull) the silvered armour and bard of Henry VIII on page 89 are reversed.

Also, during that period people who were left handed were viewed with suspicion. One of the definitions of sinister is"left-hand, wicked; evil." That suspicion was still around when I was a child; particularly in the parochial schools.

Lastly......Recently visited the Nelson Gallery in Kansas City really surprised to find a miniature of George Clifford wearing the Greenwich armor. Painted in water color on vellum about 1590-1592.

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PostPosted: Sun 09 Aug, 2009 6:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Really? Do you know who it was by? Was it one of Hilliard's miniatures?

There's a miniature by Hilliard of Clifford dressed up for the Accession Day Tilt, wearing armour with gold stars all over it. If I remember correctly, he was supposed to be the "Knight of Pendragon." (The participants at the Accession Day Tilt would dress up as different characters from legends.) Here is the painting:


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Daniel Sullivan




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PostPosted: Sun 09 Aug, 2009 7:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Adam,

It is by Nicolas Hilliard and is very similar to the one posted elsewhere on this site, but displays much more armor. It is one of 250 miniatures in the group donated by a Mr. and Mrs. Star in 1958 and 1965.

Guess the "Pendragon" armor is lost since gone, but in Stones Glossary (originally published in the 1930s) there is a greave or a set of greaves that have a similar decoration.

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PostPosted: Mon 10 Aug, 2009 5:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Upon seeing the Clifford armour, wanting one is a natural reaction.
Heck, I want one.
Even if it is 500 years out of style...

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PostPosted: Mon 10 Aug, 2009 5:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Daniel Sullivan wrote:
Adam,

It is by Nicolas Hilliard and is very similar to the one posted elsewhere on this site, but displays much more armor. It is one of 250 miniatures in the group donated by a Mr. and Mrs. Star in 1958 and 1965.

Guess the "Pendragon" armor is lost since gone, but in Stones Glossary (originally published in the 1930s) there is a greave or a set of greaves that have a similar decoration.

Dan


any further into on that one then, particularly on the size of it?
I'm still puzzling over the depth of detail in the feather crest, as to my eye, it's leaping out as really hesitant painting... if it's a miniture, that'd make sense, but if that's a large scale painting, it just seems really odd to me.

(or maybe its just the scan/reproduction not doing it any favours)
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Stephane Rabier




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PostPosted: Mon 10 Aug, 2009 9:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi,
I've heard or read somewhere that the masters didn't mind painting the trivial details: grass, feathers... They had some assistants and apprentices who where in charge of the secondary parts of the painting. Only the face, hands etc. where painted by the master himself.
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Daniel Sullivan




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PostPosted: Mon 10 Aug, 2009 10:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

JG,

Can't comment on the one posted by Adam (feathered crest), but the one in Kansas City is about 2.5 to 3 inches in height.
Incidently, Hilliard was the court painter to Elizabeth I and James I.

Dan
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Boris R.





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PostPosted: Sun 22 Nov, 2009 2:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi

is there a record left on the original price of the armour? The famous Greenwich one, that is.
What was the original price and to what amount would that translate today?

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