Armor of Henry II, King of France (reigned 1547–59)

Designer: Part of the decoration design by Jean Cousin the Elder (French, Souci (?) ca. 1490–ca. 1560 Paris (?))

Designer: Part of the decoration design possibly by Baptiste Pellerin (French, documented in Étampes 1542–75 Paris)

Date: ca. 1555

Geography: possibly Paris

Culture: French, possibly Paris

Medium: Steel, gold, silver, leather, textile

Dimensions: H. 74 in. (187.96 cm); Wt. 53 lb. 4 oz. (24.20 kg)

Classification: Armor for Man

Credit Line: Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1939

Accession Number: 39.121a–n


This is one of the most elaborate and complete French parade armors, and it retains much of its original coloring. The surfaces are covered by dense foliate scrolls inhabited by human figures and a variety of fabulous creatures that derive from the Italian grotesque. The decoration includes, at the center of the breast, a Roman warrior receiving tribute of arms from two kneeling females and, on the shoulders, Apollo chasing the nymph Daphne (front) and Apollo with the slain monster Python (back). The crescent moon, one of the badges of Henry II (reigned 1547–59), appears in several places.

Twenty original design drawings for this armor survive. One is by Jean Cousin the Elder; the rest are by either Étienne Delaunne or Baptiste Pellerin. All three were distinguished Parisian artists of the mid-sixteenth century.