Picenum Breastplate “Kardiophylax”

Culture: Picene
Period: 6th century B.C.
Material: Bronze
Dimensions: 25.6 cm in diameter
Price: 12 000 Euro
Ref: 4199
Provenance: Galerie Elsa Bloch-Diener, Bern, Switzerland. From there acquired in the 1970s by Alice and Fernand Halpen. By descent to the collection Jacques and Henriette Schumann. Auctioned with Christie’s Paris on 30 September 2003, lot 85. Last in the English art market.
Condition: Minor chips on the rim, otherwise wonderfully preserved with a beautiful patina.
Description: Rare bronze breastplate which belonged to the equipment of a Picentine warrior. The slightly convex, circular plate is hammered and abundantly decorated. In a circle of applied knobs two very creative mixed creatures are cast. The large creature to the left has its head and the body of a water bird, but with four oversize legs with long claws. On the tail rests another stylized animal, which has two heads with long beaks, which rests on a semi-circular neck. A long tail with wing-like extensions protrudes to the right. On the left and right image area two small circles of applied knobs are applied, one with a knob, the other one with a perforation in the centre. Through seven perforations in total the plate was affixed on a leather background. Plates such as the present one were worn as armour to protect the heart, this is why they were also called as kardiophylax. The Picentes were contemporaries of the Etruscans, who settled from the 9th century B.C. in the upper Italian Adriatic coastline in the marches. In 268 B.C. the Romans finally conquered their capital city. See for the way of wearing of a breastplate the depiction of the warrior from Capestrano in the Museo archeologico nazionale d’Abruzzo. A breastplate with similar decoration is in the British Museum with object reference 1872,1008.1. For further parallels, see Christie’s auction on June 10, 2010, lot 121 and the publication “Ancient Art from the Barbier-Mueller Museum”, Geneva 1991, pages 92-93. Mounted.