H. 23 1/8 in. (58.7 cm); W. 15 1/4 in. (38.7 cm); Wt. 13 lb. 11 oz. (6209 g)
Rogers Fund, 1904
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 376
The great weight of this extraordinary shield and a related helmet also in the Metropolitan Museums collection (04.3.259) (over thirteen pounds each) indicates that they were never intended to be worn. They must have served a purely decorative function, perhaps as part of an ornamental panoply of arms that graced some rich interior.
The bronze helmet bowl and shield were silvered and patinated to look like blued steel. Finely crafted ormolu (gilt bronze) mounts were cast separately and attached individually to them. The mounts are equal in quality to the best ormolu furniture mounts made in Paris around 1760, when Neoclassical design was superseding Rococo. Rather than the work of an armorer, this helmet and shield were probably designed by an artist and made by a craftsman or workshop that produced furniture mounts and other decorative bronze objects.
By the eighteenth century, the purpose of armor was chiefly symbolic. Armor based on Classical prototypes invoked the heroic qualities of ancient Greece and Rome. Representations of such armor were widely used in painting, the decorative arts, and the theater.
Ex coll.: M. Joyeau; Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, Duc de Dino, Paris
Artist: Part of the decoration design by Jean Cousin the Elder (French, Souci (?) ca. 1490–ca. 1560 Paris (?))Date: ca. 1555Medium: Steel, gold, silver, leather, textileAccession: 39.121a–nOn view in:Gallery 374