These 15th gauntlets originate from a private European collection. Based on the design of the gauntlets they appear to be similar in form (if not level of adornment) to the later works of Kunz Lochner and the Nuremberg armorers of the mid 16th century. For instance, the gauntlets resemble the gauntlets from the Armor of Emperor Ferdinand I currently on display at the Metropolitan Museum (though obviously lacking the gilding). For this reason the Germanic origins for the gauntlets asserted by the owner are likely, though based on the engraving the gauntlets are older than Lochner’s work.
These steel gauntlets, though incomplete, are in relatively good condition considering their age. The artistic design is both simple and elegant – comprised mostly of finely etched central bands of foliage and foliage upper borders throughout the articles. The cuffs, similar to later examples out of Nuremberg, have a rolled and roped edge – again, simple and elegant. The rivets are stark, bold, and solid, providing strength still to the ancient steel. The cuffs build up into five metacarpal plates, also with etched foliage that continue the patterns seamlessly from the start. While the finger and thumb plates are lacking, the knuckle plates retain their shape and rivets. Unlike many pieces from this age, the exterior has no visible rust – only an even, light patina that does not obscure the subtle floral etching.
In remarkably good condition for their age, these 15th Century German gauntlets are an exquisite example of Renaissance Germany’s armor artistry. Later iterations of gauntlets such as this would have been relegated for parade duty; these ones (originating a century before heavy plate became more and more decorative and less practical during the Negroli/Milanese period) almost certainly saw use in battle. This is an opportunity to hold and display genuine artifacts that still hold their original beauty – few opportunities like this remain.