|knees from "Maryrdom of Saint Barbara"|
Knees based on the painting The Martyrdom of Saint Barbara, ca. 1510, by Lucas Cranach the Elder (German, 1472–1553)
Many times the fanciful armour seen in period paintings is played off as artist imagination. The first time I saw a picture of this painting the knees worn by the executioner (Saint Barbara's father) struck me as not only beautiful but also as potentially real. The only way I knew to see if they where feasible or not was to build them. In the painting it looks to be blackened steel knees with some sort of cut and slashed cover over them, what this cover could have been is anyones guess as nothing similar has survived. Do to the shaping and apparent stiffness that is shown in the painting I went with leather. Leather not only holds its shape nicely but also allows many of the details seen in the painting to be tooled and replicates the color quite well.
My reproduction started with hand formed knee cops from 14g mild steel, formed with a combination of dishing and raising. Following the lines in the painting the knees are asymmetric with the top being slightly larger than the bottom and the curve viewed from the side getting progressively tighter towards the top. Some of these curves are subtle but lend greatly to the end look and feel of these knees. After shaping and polishing the steel knees have been heat blued to look black like those in the painting and reflect light as those in the painting appear to do. The leather covers are made from 4-5oz leather, hand cut and tooled to match the design and details seen in the original painting. In the painting the edges of the tooling are highlighted in a golden color, was this gilded trim, or just the artist use of light to highlight the tooling? There is no way to be sure but the gold painted edging that I did replicates the painting far closer than the knees would without the paint. The painting hints at stitches that could have held the leather cover over the knees and which are seemingly necessary to get the leather to conform to the rolls at the top and bottom of the cop. Following the hints in the painting the leather covers are stitched down to the polished blued steel knees cops. Straps are riveted to the knees with brass rivets and hand stamped rosettes like seen in the painting and use hand made buckles for closing.
Beautiful yet robust, these knees are worthy to take center place in any collection or historical costume.
Price $400 + shipping