Riding helmet

This helmet, enhanced with carved decorations is the work of Pompeo della Cesa, one of the greatest weapon carvers in the 16th century.

The steel helmet, the work of Pompeo della Cesa, is part of a small equestrian and foot suit of armour that belonged to Renato Borromeo. Enhanced by engraved decorations with motifs of entwined ribbons, tiles, rings, allegorical figures, horses’ bits, and gilded trophies, standing out against a granite, blackened background. The helmet, made in Brescia, dates back to the late 16th century.

The collection

The art work

The helmet is part of a suit of armour, likely made for Renato I Borromeo who, at the end of the 16th century, was captain and ambassador at the court of King Philip III of Spain. He was a cousin of St Charles Borromeo and brother of the famous cardinal Federico. The helmet is decorated with a series of engraved bands, separated by plain strips. The tiles depict different symbols referring to the emblems of the Borromeo family, including the unicorn, horses’ bit, and the word “Humilitas”, the motto of St Charles, referred to the humility with which it is necessary to stand before God.

The helmet decoration is engraved using the etching technique and then darkened and gilded by Pompeo della Cesa, recorded as the “royal armourer” to Philip II in the Castello Sforzesco, Milan, and known as the greatest artist of all the weapons carvers in the final decades of the 16th century.