Sleeve of Mail, 16th century
Steel, copper alloy
15 11/16 x 13 in. (40 x 33 cm)
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Gift of Prince Albrecht Radziwill, 1927 (27.183.29)
© The Metropolitan Museum of Art / Art Resource, NY
Like the gussets worn in the portrait of Faustino Avogadro, this sleeve of fine mail (from the French maille, meaning “link” or “mesh”) would have been worn with plate armor to protect the parts of the body left exposed between the plates. Such fine links offered greater flexibility, were lighter and more comfortable to wear than mail of larger links, and were more time-consuming and thus more expensive to produce. Mail produced in German-speaking cities was exported throughout Europe; Nuremberg, for instance, was renowned as a center for mail production. This example bears a seal stamped with the arms of the electors of Saxony, indicating that it was once in the Saxon arsenal in or around Dresden.