Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object

Helmet and Shield in the Classical Style

Date:
probably ca. 1760–70
Culture:
French, Paris
Medium:
Bronze, silver, gold, silk, metallic yarn
Dimensions:
H. 15 in. ( 38.1 cm); W. 8 15/16 in. ( 22.7 cm); D. 13 1/8 in. (33.3 cm); Wt. 13 lb. 6 oz. (6067 g)
Classification:
Helmets
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1904
Accession Number:
04.3.259–.260
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 376
The great weight of this extraordinary helmet and shield (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.
Related Objects

Armor of Infante Luis, Prince of Asturias (1707–1724)

Artist: Signature probably refers to Jean Drouart (French, Paris, died before October 1715) Date: dated 1712 Medium: Steel, gold, brass, silk, cotton, metallic yarn, paper Accession: 1989.3 On view in:Gallery 376

Shield in the Classical Style

Date: probably ca. 1760–70 Medium: Bronze, silver; gold, silk, metallic yarn Accession: 04.3.260 On view in:Gallery 376

Costume Armor in the Classical Style

Artist: Helmet includes original paper label of Hallé (French, Paris, active ca. 1780–1800) Date: ca. 1788–90 Medium: Linen, papier-mâché, bole, gold leaf, graphite (helmet); silk, cotton, metal coils and spangles, metallic yarn (tunic) Accession: 1988.65.1–.2 On view in:Gallery 376

Helmet in the Classical Style

Date: probably ca. 1760–70 Medium: Bronze, silver, gold, silk, metallic yarn Accession: 04.3.259 On view in:Gallery 376

Armor of Henry II, King of France (reigned 1547–59)

Artist: Part of the decoration design by Jean Cousin the Elder (French, Souci (?) ca. 1490–ca. 1560 Paris (?)) Date: ca. 1555 Medium: Steel, gold, silver, leather, textile Accession: 39.121a–n On view in:Gallery 374