Breastplate from an Armor of Francesco Maria II della Rovere (1548–1631), Duke of Urbino

Date:
ca. 1570
Geography:
probably Milan
Culture:
Italian, probably Milan
Medium:
Steel, gold
Dimensions:
17 1/4 x 13 9/16 in. (43.8 x 34.5 cm); Wt. 6 lb. 14 oz. (3113 g)
Classification:
Armor Parts-Breastplates
Credit Line:
Gift of Bernice and Jerome Zwanger, 2008
Accession Number:
2008.638.2
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 371
This breastplate belongs to an armor made for Francesco Maria II della Rovere (1548–1631), duke of Urbino from 1574. The armor is represented in a portrait of the prince painted by Federico Barocci soon after Francesco Maria returned to Urbino following his participation in the destruction of the Turkish fleet at the battle of Lepanto in October 1571. It is not known if Francesco Maria wore this armor during the battle or if he had it made afterward to celebrate his role in this historic victory.

The heavy weight of the breastplate suggests that it was intended for battlefield use. The Barocci portrait depicts the prince wearing an infantry armor, which includes an open-faced helmet (burgonet) and a shield. However, the breastplate has a turning-pin at the top for the attachment of a reinforcing breastplate fitted for a lance-rest (now in the Musée de l'Armée, Paris). This indicates that the armor was intended for cavalry use as well and originally would have included a close-helmet and leg defenses.
Ex. coll.: Dr. William Meyrick, London; Henry Arthur Brassey, Esq., M.P. of Preston Hall, Kent (who purchased Meyrick's collection from his heirs c. 1880); Leonard Brassey (the latter's son), Apethorpe Hall, Peterborough; Brassey sale, Christie's, London, Feb. 21, 1922, lot 73, illustrated; acquired by B. Dean for William R. Hearst; anoymous sale, Parke-Bernet Galleries, NY, Nov. 25, 1953, lot 49; Stephen V. Grancsay, until c. 1969, when sold to Dr. Jerome Zwanger.
Allentown. Allentown Art Museum. "Arms and Armor: A Loan Exhibition from the Collection of Stephen V. Grancsay: with Important Contributions by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the John Woodman Higgins Armory, Worcester, Massachusetts," March 15–June 14, 1964, no. 75.

Meyrick, William. An Illustrated Catalogue of Weapons and Detached Specimens of Armour, from the Collection of William Meyrick, Esq.. London: Joseph Clayton, 1860. no. 16.

Christie, Manson & Woods. Meyrick Arms and Armour Being the Collection Formed About the Middle of the 19th Century by the Late Dr. William Meyrick. London: Christie, Manson & Woods, February 21, 1922. p. 12, no. 73, ill.

Parke-Bernet Galleries. Arms & Armor. New York: Parke-Bernet Galleries, November 25, 1953. no. 49.

Allentown Art Museum, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, and John Woodman Higgins Armory. Arms and Armor: A Loan Exhibition from the Collection of Stephen V. Grancsay: with Important Contributions by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the John Woodman Higgins Armory, Worcester, Massachusetts: March 15–June 14, 1964. Allentown, Pa.: Allentown Art Museum, March 15, 1964–June 14, 1964. p. 64, no. 75.