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.: [reportedly] dukes of Ormonde, Ireland; The Marquesses of Hastings, Earls of Loudoun, Ayrshire, Scotland; S. J. Whawell, London; Cyril V. Andrade, London.
World Museum. "Loan to Museum of Derby," (On loan to museum; probably not for an exhibition).
Manchester. Exhibition Building, Manchester. "Art Treasures Exhibition," May 5–October 17, 1857 (not mentioned in catalogue in MMA library).
Dean, Bashford. Handbook of Arms and Armor: European and Oriental, Including the William H. Riggs Collection, the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: Gilliss Press, January 1915. p. 182, fig. 120.
Dowell's Ltd. Catalogue of Valuable Furnishings ... Chairs ... Cabinets ... Tapestries ... Sixteenth & Seventeenth Century Arms & Armour. Edinburgh: Dowell's Ltd., 1921. no. 751, ill.
Beard, Charles R. Notes on the Barberini and Some Allied Armours. privately printed, 1924.
Dean, Bashford. "The Barberini Armor." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin (December 1926), pp. 279–82, figs. 1–2.
Dean, Bashford, and Robert T. Nichol. Handbook of Arms and Armor, European and Oriental, edited by Stephen V. Grancsay. 4th ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, October 1930. p. 182, fig. 120.
Grancsay, Stephen V. Historical Armor: A Picture Book. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1944. pl. 11.
Grancsay, Stephen V. Historical Armor: A Picture Book. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1946. pl. 11.
Grancsay, Stephen V. Historical Armor: A Picture Book. 3rd ed. ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1951. pl. 11.
Grancsay, Stephen V. Historical Armor: A Picture Book. 4th ed. ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1957. pl. 11.
Aroldi, Aldo M. Armi e Armature Italiane Fino al XVIII Secolo. Milan: Bramante Editrice, 1961. fig. 155.
Boccia, Lionello G., and Eduardo T. Coelho. L'Arte dell'Armatura in Italia. Milan: Bramante Editrice, 1967. pp. 464, 480–81, pl. 425.
Nickel, Helmut. Ullstein-Waffenbuch: Eine Kulturhistorische Waffenkunde Mit Markenverzeichnis. Berlin: Ullstein, 1974. p. 125, ill.
Boccia, Lionello G., Fabio Rossi, and Marco Morin. Armi e Armature Lombarde. Milan: Electa, 1980. pl. 209.