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Armor for a Member of the Barberini Family

Date:
armor, ca. 1623–30; spurs, early 17th century
Geography:
Milan
Culture:
armor, Italian, Milan; spurs, French
Medium:
Steel, gold, silver, brass
Dimensions:
armor (26.210): Wt. 34 lb. 8 oz. (15.65 kg); Wt. of helmet 5 lb. 3 oz. (2350 g); spurs (14.25.1731a, b): L. of each neck 1 1/4 in. (3.2 cm); L. of each rowel box 1 3/8 in. (3.5 cm); Diam. of each star rowel 2 1/8 in. (5.4 cm); Wt. of left spur 5 lb. 4 oz. (2381 g); Wt. of right spur 5 lb. 8 oz. (2495 g)
Classification:
Armor for Man-3/4 Armor
Credit Line:
armor: George F. Baker Fund, 1926; spurs: Gift of William H. Riggs, 1913
Accession Number:
26.210; 14.25.1731a, b
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 371
This armor is a deluxe version of a typical cuirassier’s armor, worn by heavy cavalry armed with sword and pistols. Its rich ornament and light weight, however, indicate that it was designed primarily for ceremonial wear and as a symbol of martial status.

The punched and chiseled decoration is characteristic of elaborate Milanese armor of the early seventeenth century. The designs include numerous crowned ovals enclosing bees, the badge of the Barberini, one of Rome’s most powerful families. The Barberini rose to prominence, wealth, and power with the election of Maffeo Barberini as Pope Urban VIII in 1623. Presumably, this armor was made for the ranking secular member of the family, either Carlo (1562–1630) or his son Tadeo (1603–1647). The pope’s brother, Carlo was general of the papal armies and duke of Monterotondo from 1623 and prince of Palestrina from 1629. Taddeo succeeded to his father’s titles and offices in 1630.
Ex. coll.: King Charles I, England; Duke of Ormonde, Ireland; The Marquesses of Hastings, Earls of Loudoun, Ayrshire, Scotland; Cyril V. Andrade, London.
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