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

Designer: Part of the decoration design by Jean Cousin the Elder (French, Souci (?) ca. 1490–ca. 1560 Paris (?))

Designer: Part of the decoration design possibly by Étienne Delaune (French, Orléans 1518/19–1583 Strasbourg)

Designer: Part of the decoration design possibly by Baptiste Pellerin (French, documented in Étampes 1542–75 Paris)

Date: ca. 1555

Geography: possibly Paris

Culture: French, possibly Paris

Medium: Steel, gold, silver, leather, textile

Dimensions: H. 74 in. (187.96 cm); Wt. 53 lb. 4 oz. (24.20 kg)

Classification: Armor for Man

Credit Line: Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1939

Accession Number: 39.121a–n


This example of one of the most elaborate and complete French parade armors retains much of its original coloring. The surfaces are covered by dense foliate scrolls inhabited by human figures and a variety of fabulous creatures that derive from Italian grotesque. The decoration includes (at the center of the breast) a Roman warrior receiving tribute arms from two kneeling females and (on the shoulders) Apollo chasing the nymph Daphne (front) and Apollo with the slain monster Python (back). The crescent moon, a badge of Henry II (r. 1547–59), is found in several places.

The design of the decoration is attributed to the Parisian goldsmith and printmaker Étienne Delaune (1518/19–1583), who served Henry II as an engraver at the royal mint. Numerous preparatory designs for this armor, many apparently in Delaune's hand, are in the Graphische Sammlung, Munich.