Körper in Hüllen
Die Rüstung als Maske/Maskerade und zweite Haut in der englischen Kultur des späten 16. Jahrhunderts
The article examines the agentiality of (English) Renaissance armour, unfolded in its performative handling, from an image-anthropological, gender-specific and material-semantic perspective. Armour is not only an instrument of protection and adornment for the (male) body, but can also be understood, specifically through the helmet, as a full-body mask, which both conceals and produces identities. The signs on this armour, this second skin, have a special significance, which, as Victor Stoichita has explained in regard to Alfred Gell, had the function – like tattoos on real skin (understood as symbolic armour) – of making the wearer doubly invulnerable. While Italian armour of the Renaissance was characterised by apotropaic figurations such as lions’ heads or the head of Medusa, English armour of the second half of the 16th century had ornamental elements etched into the steel. A particularly well preserved example of English armour is that of George Clifford, 3rd Earl of Cumberland (New York, Metropolitan Museum). The article examines the special signs on this armour and, taking into account Cumberland’s miniature portraits in lockable metal containers worn on the body, illuminates the charging of this artefact through operations of opening and closing, concealing and revealing. Against the background of the pronounced love cult at the court of Elizabeth I, Cumberland’s armour reveals itself not only as an instrument of male parade, but also as a gift of love (of the male body) to the queen, which is able to subvert and reconfigure traditional power relations in the complex network between the material artefact, the female ruler (at the same time adored lady) and the male favourite.
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