Plate armour in period illustrations

Moderator: Moderators

User avatar
Steve Churchill
Posts: 43
Joined: Sun Nov 01, 2009 4:36 pm
Location: Kent

Plate armour in period illustrations

Postby Steve Churchill » Wed Jun 02, 2010 8:55 pm

Something that has been puzzeling me recently as I go through the hordes of illustrations of armour of the late 14th and throughout the 15th century is the sheer number where armour is shown as blackened or blued in colouration, there are examples of images of 'plain' polished armour but it seems to be in much fewer numbers?

Is this a misconception on my part, the artists of the period or does it actually suggest that many such armours were deliberately blackened/blued rather than left polished plain metalic 'grey/silver'?



User avatar
paul bennett
Posts: 270
Joined: Sat Mar 29, 2008 7:56 pm
Location: Manchester
Contact:

Re: Plate armour in period illustrations

Postby paul bennett » Thu Jun 03, 2010 12:33 pm

Track down period text descriptions of people in armour and you will have a basis for an answer.

my recolection is that most armour is described as "bright", "shining", "white" etc, so there may be artistic conventions at play


http://www.historicarts.co.uk
Bespoke and off-the-shelf furniture, games and weaponry for living history

User avatar
Colin Middleton
Absolute Wizard
Posts: 2037
Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2005 12:31 pm
Location: Sheffield
Contact:

Re: Plate armour in period illustrations

Postby Colin Middleton » Thu Jun 03, 2010 12:36 pm

Is it a reaction in the pigment used to colour steel that turned it black during the last 500 years? Is it some artistic convention indicating ruse, protective varnish, or even shiny steel? Just because it's black now, doesn't mean that it's supposed to be black.

I'd love to know what they mean too!


Colin

"May 'Blood, blood, blood' be your motto!"

Image

User avatar
Colin Middleton
Absolute Wizard
Posts: 2037
Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2005 12:31 pm
Location: Sheffield
Contact:

Re: Plate armour in period illustrations

Postby Colin Middleton » Thu Jun 03, 2010 12:40 pm

paul bennett wrote:Track down period text descriptions of people in armour and you will have a basis for an answer.

my recolection is that most armour is described as "bright", "shining", "white" etc, so there may be artistic conventions at play


IIRC, a harness was recently taken appart in a museum (it may have been the Avante harness in Glasgow) and they found that the plates that hadn't been exposed to the air for centuries had a mirror polish on them, even more shiny than the bits we normally see on display.


Colin

"May 'Blood, blood, blood' be your motto!"

Image

User avatar
Allan Harley
Posts: 324
Joined: Sat Feb 04, 2006 9:28 pm
Location: Plotting world dominoes
Contact:

Re: Plate armour in period illustrations

Postby Allan Harley » Thu Jun 03, 2010 1:13 pm

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=129097963782985&index=1#!/photo.php?pid=4158695&id=527283459

from what I have researched, then painted, blackened, enamelled or gilded armour is possible but teh majority would be "white armour" whether polished or plain


Away from the battle all are soldiers.

User avatar
gregory23b
Absolute Wizard
Posts: 2923
Joined: Sun Jul 17, 2005 9:46 pm
Location: Gyppeswyk, Suffolk

Re: Plate armour in period illustrations

Postby gregory23b » Thu Jun 03, 2010 2:50 pm

The simple matter is that shiny metal is shown with very dark contrasts, and that silver leaf is not the best way to show a metallic surface.

Blues, blacks, greys and lots of whites are used, often with streaks, plus you will find a standard 'method' employed by MSS artists.

When you look at larger scale images, which offer more scope for accuracy, then you see that the armours are more often as not, white.

MSS are difficult to use for much more than a general idea, space, convention and above all, size limit the output.


middle english dictionary

Isabela on G23b "...somehow more approachable in real life"

http://medievalcolours.blogspot.com

"I know my place." Alice the Huswyf

User avatar
Zachos
Posts: 424
Joined: Wed Oct 26, 2005 5:34 pm

Re: Plate armour in period illustrations

Postby Zachos » Fri Jun 04, 2010 1:15 am

It's all about composition. An image with large very pale surfaces lacks definition. Make it darker, and it's easier to see what it is.



User avatar
Laffin Jon Terris
Posts: 199
Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2005 11:32 am
Contact:

Re: Plate armour in period illustrations

Postby Laffin Jon Terris » Sun Jun 06, 2010 7:32 pm

Anyone else note that Allan harness as pictured is not all shiny and white?

The shading in the shot and reflection of the surroundings on the plate gives the effect that half of his harness is darker or mottled.

I have actually seen a few modern photos of people wearing white harness where, due to completely natural effects upon the lens the armour does indeed look blue or black.

JonT


Knowing is only half the battle.
Image

User avatar
gregory23b
Absolute Wizard
Posts: 2923
Joined: Sun Jul 17, 2005 9:46 pm
Location: Gyppeswyk, Suffolk

Re: Plate armour in period illustrations

Postby gregory23b » Sun Jun 06, 2010 9:59 pm

Just to add, shine only works well on curved surfaces, ie if something is shiny and flat and you look at it straight on, it does not appear that shiny, hence curved surfaces show the shine, which is why gilded panels or parts of paintings were done on curved or light relief and punched or stamped, to provide facets or curves for the light to work its magic. By the same token silver leaf on a painting needs to be put onto a curved or modelled surface, not easily achieved with the more mediocre artists, plus the leaf can go blue black due to chemical changes on the surface, ie tarnish. Far better, as mentioned above is to create the effect artificially, by painting the light streaks as if on a curved surface. Silvery surfaces if not reflecting colours (of objects in front of them) are just a series of grey, black and white streaks.


middle english dictionary

Isabela on G23b "...somehow more approachable in real life"

http://medievalcolours.blogspot.com

"I know my place." Alice the Huswyf

User avatar
Colin Middleton
Absolute Wizard
Posts: 2037
Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2005 12:31 pm
Location: Sheffield
Contact:

Re: Plate armour in period illustrations

Postby Colin Middleton » Mon Jun 07, 2010 1:03 pm

Laffin Jon Terris wrote:Anyone else note that Allan harness as pictured is not all shiny and white?

The shading in the shot and reflection of the surroundings on the plate gives the effect that half of his harness is darker or mottled.

I have actually seen a few modern photos of people wearing white harness where, due to completely natural effects upon the lens the armour does indeed look blue or black.

JonT


Allan's harness? Do you mean Zachos'?

Yes, I do see what you mean, I'd never though of that! That'll teach me to pay proper attention!


Colin

"May 'Blood, blood, blood' be your motto!"

Image

Langley
Post Centurion
Posts: 763
Joined: Thu Aug 14, 2008 1:36 pm
Location: West Midlands

Re: Plate armour in period illustrations

Postby Langley » Mon Jun 07, 2010 1:07 pm

If blackened or sanguined had been common surely the Black Prince would have been called the Same as Everybody Else Prince?



User avatar
Laffin Jon Terris
Posts: 199
Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2005 11:32 am
Contact:

Re: Plate armour in period illustrations

Postby Laffin Jon Terris » Mon Jun 07, 2010 8:29 pm

Colin Middleton wrote:
Allan's harness? Do you mean Zachos'?

Yes, I do see what you mean, I'd never though of that! That'll teach me to pay proper attention!


Allans post has a link to a picture on his facebook site.



Knowing is only half the battle.

Image

User avatar
Colin Middleton
Absolute Wizard
Posts: 2037
Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2005 12:31 pm
Location: Sheffield
Contact:

Re: Plate armour in period illustrations

Postby Colin Middleton » Tue Jun 08, 2010 12:32 pm

D'oh! :$


Colin

"May 'Blood, blood, blood' be your motto!"

Image

User avatar
Laffin Jon Terris
Posts: 199
Joined: Thu Aug 11, 2005 11:32 am
Contact:

Re: Plate armour in period illustrations

Postby Laffin Jon Terris » Fri Jun 11, 2010 5:38 pm

Langley wrote:If blackened or sanguined had been common surely the Black Prince would have been called the Same as Everybody Else Prince?


Unless (devils advocate here) he was called that because his armour was black like the common issue stuff rather than being mirror polished like the other nobs?


Knowing is only half the battle.

Image


Return to “1100-1500”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 4 guests