This helmet is the only known example of armor to survive from the entire Nasrid period in Spain (1230–1492). Traditionally, it is said it belonged to Abd 'Abd Allāh Muhammad, known in the West as Boabdil, the last Nasrid king of Granada (reigned 1482–83 and 1487–92) before it was reconquered by the Spanish.
The helmet has the form of a typical Spanish sallet of the late fifteenth century, with cutouts over the eyes inspired by Islamic examples. The decoration, however, is extraordinarily rich and distinctive. The steel is covered entirely in a layer of gold leaf that is finely engraved with geometric and foliate designs; the edges are trimmed with silver. Delicate cloisonné enamels, evocative of Nasrid jewelry, are inset overall, further distinguishing this helmet as one of great rarity, quality, and beauty.
Ex. coll.: Pierre-Françoise Percy, Paris; Durand, Paris; Counts de Pérignon, château near Montbartier, Languedoc; Louis Bachereau, Paris; the Lords Astor of Hever, Hever Castle, Kent.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Islamic Art. "Bright Side of Battle," January 17–September 1, 1985.
Granada. Alhambra. "Al-Andalus: The Art of Islamic Spain," March 18–June 7, 1992, no. 65.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Al-Andalus: The Art of Islamic Spain," July 1–September 27, 1992, no. 65.
Washington. National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. "The Art of Power: Royal Armor & Portraits from Imperial Spain," June 28–November 1, 2009.
Madrid. Museo Nacional del Prado. "The Art of Power: Royal Armor & Portraits from Imperial Spain," March 8–May 16, 2010.
"Par L.J.J. Dubois.." In Catalogue des antiquités, armures, armes, etc.. Paris, June 15, 1825. lot 53, first published reference to this helmet.
Catalogue des armures et armes diverses, composant la collection formée originairement par feu M. le baron Percy et completée par M. Durand. Paris, January 18, 1830. lot 62.
Dean, Bashford. Notes on Arms and Armor. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1916.
Laking, Guy Francis, Charles Alexander Cosson, and Francis Henry Cripps-Day. A Record of European Armour and Arms through Seven Centuries. Vol. 2. London: G. Bell and Sons, 1920. pp. 15–18, fig. 356.
Mann, James G., and Society of Antiquaries of London. "Notes on the Armour Worn in Spain from the Tenth to the Fifteenth Century." Archaeologia 83 (1933). p. 301, pl. XC.
Blair, Claude. "The Emperor Maximilian's Gift armour to King Henry VIII and the Silvered and Engraved Armour at the Tower of London." Archaeologia, or, Miscellaneous Tracts Relating to Antiquity 99 (1965).
Hayward, John F. "Volume One: Arms and Armour." In The Hever Castle Collection: The Property of The Lord Astor of Hever. Vol. I. London: Sotheby Parke Bernet & Co., May 5, 1983. p. 28–29, lot 34, ill. p. 29.
Nicolle, David, and Angus McBride. El Cid and the Reconquista: Warfare in Medieval Spain, 1050–1492. Men-at-Arms. London: Osprey Publishing, 1988. p. 33, fig. E.
Nickel, Helmut. "Arms and Armor from the Permanent Collection." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 49, no. 1 (Summer 1991). pp. 54–55, 64, ill. p. 55.
Laking, Guy Francis, Charles Alexander Cosson, Francis Henry Cripps-Day, and Claude Blair. A Record of European Armour and Arms Through Seven Centuries. Vol. 2. Cambridge: Ken Trotman Ltd., 2000. pp. 15–18, fig. 356.