Italian, Milan

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 374

The revival of interest in the Classical world during the Renaissance had a profound effect on the appearance of armor. Inspired by Roman examples, armor all’antica (in the antique style) was worn by Italian princes and condottieri (professional soldiers) as an evocation of ancient heroes and of a glorious military heritage. Although armor in Classical fashion was known in the fifteenth century, it was not until about 1530 that armorers began to make it in embossed steel. In raising the decoration to high relief, the steel plates were worked too thin to be of protective value. As a result, embossed armor served a purely ceremonial role, leaving the armorer free to fashion it into fantastic, often whimsical forms. Filippo Negroli of Milan (about 1510–1579) seems to have been the principal innovator of this style, and contemporaries judged his works to be masterpieces of sculpture. The Negroli workshop included Filippo’s brother Francesco, a specialist in damascening (the inlaying of gold and silver into iron or steel), and a cousin, Giovan Paolo. Among their patrons were the leading connoisseurs of the period, notably Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, kings Francis I and Henry II of France, and the dukes of Mantua and Urbino.

Burgonet, Steel, gold, Italian, Milan

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