Helmet and Shield in the Classical Style

French, Paris

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 376

The great weight of this extraordinary helmet and shield (over thirteen pounds each) indicates that they were never intended to be worn. They must have served a purely decorative function, perhaps as part of an ornamental panoply of arms that graced some rich interior.

The bronze helmet bowl and shield were silvered and patinated to look like blued steel. Finely crafted ormolu (gilt bronze) mounts were cast separately and attached individually to them. The mounts are equal in quality to the best ormolu furniture mounts made in Paris around 1760, when Neoclassical design was superseding Rococo. Rather than the work of an armorer, this helmet and shield were probably designed by an artist and made by a craftsman or workshop that produced furniture mounts and other decorative bronze objects.

By the eighteenth century, the purpose of armor was chiefly symbolic. Armor based on Classical prototypes invoked the heroic qualities of ancient Greece and Rome. Representations of such armor were widely used in painting, the decorative arts, and the theater.

Helmet and Shield in the Classical Style, Bronze, silver, gold, silk, metallic yarn, French, Paris

Due to rights restrictions, this image cannot be enlarged, viewed at full screen, or downloaded.

Open Access

As part of the Met's Open Access policy, you can freely copy, modify and distribute this image, even for commercial purposes.


Public domain data for this object can also be accessed using the Met's Open Access API.

04.3.259 and 04.3.260