Half Armor for a Hussar

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Half Armor for a Hussar, 1683/1700

Steel, iron, brass, and leather
H. 94 cm (37 in.)
George F. Harding Collection, 1982.2175a-f

For better mobility, some light cavalrymen, such as the legendary Polish hussars, wore half armor. The hussars, an elite branch of the Polish army, went into battle in glittering armor on magnificent horses, seldom losing a battle though they were many times outnumbered by the enemy. Recruited from among the wealthiest of Poland’s nobility, the hussars were accomplished horsemen, famous for the huge "wings" worn on their backs or attached to their saddles. These wings were made of wooden wing-shaped frames with eagle feathers inserted into the back rims. The thunderous noise made by the flapping of these extra appendages during a charge was meant to frighten the enemy horses. Known as "winged horsemen," the colorfully costumed hussars also wore leopard or similar animal skins in the style of cloaks over the pauldrons (shoulder pieces) of their armor.

— Permanent collection label

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

Special Exhibition Chicago Art Institute, 1971.
Not on exhibition Harding Museum, November, 1975.

Publication History

Walter Karchieski, "Arms and Armor in the Art Institute of Chicago" (Art Institute of Chicago/Little, Brown, and Company, 1995), p. 34 (ill.)

Ownership History

Prince Albrecht Radziwill, Nieswiez, Poland, by 1929. Sold Hal Furmage, London, July 18, 1929. George F. Harding.