One of the best-preserved French armors dating from the reign of Henry IV (1589–1610), this example demonstrates the French preference for completely gilt armors. It retains its original yellow silk helmet lining and red leather straps sewn with metallic thread. Matching this armor are a shaffron (defense for the horse's head), also in the Metropolitan Museum's collection (acc. no. 27.177.2), and a saddle, now in the Musée de l'Armée, Paris.
In spite of its rich decoration, this armor was intended for use in battle. It was made at a time when the lance had been abandoned by the heavily armored cavalry in favor of a pair of pistols kept in holsters at the front of the saddle. The presence of hand firearms on the battlefield led to the increasing weight of armors such as this and the gradual discarding of elements like the defenses for the lower legs.
Ex. coll.: Grand Duke of Hesse-Darmstadt.
Seattle, Wash. Seattle Art Museum. "The Art of Chivalry: European Arms and Armor," March 11, 1982–June 6, 1982, no. 28.
Denver, Colo. Denver Art Museum. "The Art of Chivalry: European Arms and Armor," July 18–October 10, 1982, no. 28.
San Antonio, Tex. Witte Museum of the San Antonio Museum Association. "The Art of Chivalry," November 13, 1982–February 5, 1983, no. 28.
Minneapolis, Minn. Minneapolis Institute of Arts. "The Art of Chivalry: European Arms and Armor," May 24–July 31, 1983, no. 28.
San Francisco. Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. "The Art of Chivalry: European Arms and Armor," November 5, 1983–January 28, 1984, no. 28.
Detroit, Mich. Detroit Institute of Arts. "The Art of Chivalry: European Arms and Armor," April 4–June 17, 1984, no. 28.
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Dean, Bashford. "Recent Accessions in the Armor Department." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 23, no. 1 pp. 18–23, fig. 7.
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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. 184, fig. 119.
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Nickel, Helmut. "Arms and Armor from the Permanent Collection." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin (Summer, 1991), pp. 30, 64, ill.
Pyhrr, Stuart W. "Of Arms and Men: Arms and Armor at the Metropolitan, 1912–2012." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin (Summer 2012), pp. 21–22, fig. 30.
La Rocca, Donald J. How to Read European Armor. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2017. pp-77.76, fig. 88.