Pageants in pseudoclassical dress were popular in Europe from the sixteenth through the eighteenth century. An elaborate costume of the kind displayed here may have been worn for a theatrical performance or a court festivity, such as a ball or carousel in which the theme was taken from classical mythology or history. The embroidered tunic represents an embossed bronze cuirass of the type worn by high-ranking Roman officers. The stylized Greek helmet is richly decorated with mythological and allegorical figures. Inside the helmet is the original paper label that identifies the Parisian maker as Halle dit Mercier and advertises his ability to provide helmets, shields, masks, costumes, and scenery for any occasion.
Fontainebleau. Musée national du Château de Fontainebleau. "Théâtre De Cour: Les Spectacles À Fontainebleau Au XVIIIe Siècle," October 18, 2005–January 23, 2006.
Rambaud, Mireille, and Archives Nationales. Documents du Minutier Central Concernant L'histoire de L'art (1700–1750). Vol. 1. Paris: S. E. V. P. E. N., 1964. p. 169.
Hôtel des Ventes Saint-Georges. Etriers, armes, pièces d'armures ayant appartenus à Georges Paulihac. Toulouse: Hôtel des Ventes Saint-Georges, 1983. no. 85.
Mars & Merkur. Wertvolle Antike Waffen, Seltene Militaria Und Bedeutende Historische Sammlungsstücke. Frankfurt: Mars & Merkur, 1987. no. 86.
Pyhrr, Stuart W. "Textiles in the Metropolitan Museum of Art." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 53, no. 3 (Winter 1995–96). p. 54, ill.
Droguet, Vincent, and Marc-Henri Jordan. Théâtre De Cour: Les Spectacles À Fontainebleau Au Xviiie Siècle: Musée National Du Château De Fontainebleau, 18 Octobre 2005–23 Janvier 2006. Paris: Réunion des Musées Nationaux, 2005. pp. 107–8, no. 58, ill.
Artist: Helmet includes original paper label of Hallé (French, Paris, active ca. 1780–1800)Date: ca. 1788–90Medium: Linen, papier-mâché, bole, gold leaf, graphite (helmet); silk, cotton, metal coils and spangles, metallic yarn (tunic); steel, wood, gesso, silver, gold leaf (sword)Accession: 1988.65.1–.2; 1995.93a, bOn view in:Gallery 376