Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Cuirassier Armor

ca. 1610–30
Milan; Brescia, Lombardy
Italian, Milan or Brescia
Steel, gold, leather, textile
H. as mounted 54 in. (137.2 cm); Wt. 86 lb. 8 oz. (39.24 kg)
Armor for Man
Credit Line:
Purchase, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Gift, 2002
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 371
The construction and build of this armor are typical of a cuirassier’s harness, a type developed toward the end of the sixteenth century in response to the growing use and efficiency of firearms. The advent of firearms caused armorers to increase the thickness and weight of plates and to supplement them with separate reinforcing plates. Before an armor of this type was finished, it was fired at with a pistol or musket to test its effectiveness against bullets, and the bullet dents were left as a guarantee of the strength and quality of its steel. This particular armor retains two reinforces with such dents, a rarely encountered plate for the back of the helmet bowl, and a plackard for the breastplate; it formerly possessed a third plate for the front of the visor. Weighing more than eighty-six pounds, it is one of the heaviest field armors known.

Although generally conforming to the construction of cuirassier harnesses worn throughout Europe about 1600 to 1640, this example is more characteristic of northern Italian (Milan or Brescia) workmanship. The armor’s weight, its reinforcing plates, and the deep “proof marks” provide a vivid reminder of the constant struggle to adapt armor to changes in tactics and weaponry as well as fashion.
[Art dealer, USA, until 2002; sold to MMA].
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Arms and Armor: Notable Acquisitions 1991–2002," September 4, 2002–January 18, 2004, no. 14.

Pyhrr, Stuart W., Donald J. La Rocca, and Morihiro Ogawa. Arms and Armor: Notable Acquisitions, 1991–2002. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2002. pp. 20–21, no. 14, ill.

Related Objects

Field Armor of King Henry VIII of England (reigned 1509–47)

Date: ca. 1544 Medium: Steel, gold, textile, leather Accession: 32.130.7a–l On view in:Gallery 371


Artist: Filippo Negroli (Italian, Milan ca. 1510–1579) Date: dated 1543 Medium: Steel, gold, textile Accession: 17.190.1720 On view in:Gallery 374

Elements of a Light-Cavalry Armor

Date: ca. 1510 Medium: Steel, gold, copper alloy Accession: 14.25.716b–f On view in:Gallery 373


Artist: Stamped with the armorer's name, LIONARDO (Italian, probably active in Milan, ca. 1440) Date: ca. 1440 Medium: Steel, copper alloy Accession: 42.50.2 On view in:Gallery 373

Gauntlet for the Right Hand, Belonging to the Armor of Don Alonzo Pérez de Guzman el Bueno (1550–1619), Count of Niebla and Duke of Medina-Sidonia

Date: ca. 1580 Medium: Steel, silver, gold, textile, leather Accession: 2002.507 On view in:Gallery 374