Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Armor Garniture, Probably of King Henry VIII of England (reigned 1509–47)

Design of the decoration attributed to Hans Holbein the Younger (German, Augsburg 1497/98–1543 London)
Made in the Royal Workshops at Greenwich (British, Greenwich, 1511–1640s)
dated 1527
British, Greenwich
Steel, gold, leather, copper alloys
H. 73 in. (185.4 cm); Wt. 62 lb. 12 oz. (28.45 kg)
Armor for Horse and Man
Credit Line:
Purchase, William H. Riggs Gift and Rogers Fund, 1919
Accession Number:
19.131.1a–r, t–w, .2a–g, l
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 371
This is the earliest dated armor from the royal workshops at Greenwich, which were established in 1515 by Henry VIII (reigned 1509–47) to produce armors for himself and his court. It is also the earliest surviving Greenwich garniture, an armor made with a series of exchange and reinforcing pieces by which it could be adapted for use in battle and in different forms of the tournament. Furthermore, the overall etching and gilding place it among the most richly decorated of all Greenwich armors. The design of the decoration is attributed to the Swiss artist Hans Holbein the Younger (1497–1543), who worked at the English court from 1526 to 1528.

The surviving exchange elements of this armor are a reinforcing breastplate with lance rest for use in the field or in the mounted tournament with lances; a left-hand gauntlet reinforce, or manifer, also used in the tournament with lances; and a right-hand locking gauntlet for the mounted tournament with swords.

A highly unusual and innovative feature is the ventral plate, which was worn strapped to the chest beneath the breastplate in order to lessen the weight supported from the shoulders. A ventral plate is found on only one other armor, made in Greenwich in 1540 for Henry VIII.

This armor is believed to have been made for Henry VIII and presented by him to the French ambassador François de La Tour d’Auvergne, viscount of Turenne, who led a diplomatic mission to London in 1527. After the viscount’s death in 1532, the armor presumably passed to his friend Galiot de Genouilhac, grand master of artillery and grand écuyer (master of the horse) of France, from whose descendants it came to The Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Inscription: The date 1527 appears on the following elements: central plate of backplate (at top), lower lame of lower loin defense, and lower tace lame.
Vita Francisci Galioti Acieri Tvrmarum Dvctoris et Fabrvm, Machinarvm Qve Bellicarvm in Gallia Praefecti, Additus est Isocratis Euagoras latinus Factus. Paris, 1549.

Histoire Genealogique de la Maison d'Auvergne: justifiée par chartres, titres, et histories anciennes, et autres preuves authentiques ... divisée en sept livres. Paris, 1645.

Histoire Généalogique de la Maison de Turene: justifiée par chartres, titres et histories anciennes, et autres preuves authentiques divisée en deux livres. Paris, 1645.

Biographie des Hommes Célèbres du Department du Lot, ou Galerie Historique des Personnages Mémorables Auxquels ce Département a Donné le Jour Depuis la Conquête des Gaules Jusques a l'Année 1827 . Gourdon, France, 1827. pp. 189–209.

Histoire Générale de la Province de Quercy. Vol. 4. Cahors, France, 1886. Note about the artist p. 451, n. I.

"Figurant a l'Exposition Rétropective Militaire." In Notice Sur les Armes et Armures Anciennes. Paris, 1900. pp. 9, 18.

"A Model for Horse Armor." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 18, no. 8 (August 1923). pp. 188–190, figs. 1–2.

Galiot de Genouillac, Maître de l'Artillerie de France (1465–1546). Paris, 1925.

Armes et Armures Anciennes et Souvenirs Historiques les Plus Précieux. Vol. II. 1st Ed. ed. Paris, 1927. pl. VII (the sword [J-95] after which the modern sword previously with this suit was copied).

"European and Oriental, Metropolitan Museum of Art." In Handbook of Arms and Armor. 4th ed. New York, October 1930. p. 126, fig. 75.

"The Armor of Galiot de Genouilhac." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Papers 4 (1937). pp. 5–36, pl. I–XXVII.

The Past is Never Dead: [Armour in the Chartres Museum]. Fragmenta Armamentaria, Vol. 5. Frome, 1941. pp. 153–186.

Historical Armor: A Picture Book. New York, December 1944. p. 3, pl. 1.

"The Classical Renaissance." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 5, no. 3 (1946).

5000 Years of Art in Western Civilization. New York, 1946. pp. 56, 122.

"Neues zum Werk des Eliseus Libaerts." Livrustkammaren 4 (1948). pp. 3–45, figs. 15–19.

An Introduction to the Study of Greenwich Armour. Fragmenta Armamentaria, Vol. I, no. 5. London, 1952. pp. 100–103.

"The New Galleries of Oriental Arms and Armor." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin (May 1958). p. 211, ill. p. 220.

"Die Königlich Englische Hofplattnerei (Martin van Royne und Erasmus Kirkener)." Jahrbuch der Kunsthistorischen Sammlungen in Wien 59 (1963). p. 15, fig. 9.

"a harnes all gilte": A Study of the Armor of Galiot de Genouilhac and the Icolography of its Decoration." Metropolitan Museum of Art Journal 5 (1972). pp. 75–124, ill. pp. 76–78, 80–81, 84–91, 94, 96, 98, 100–104, 106–108, 110, 118,121.

Ullstein-Waffenbuch: Eine Kulturhistorische Waffenkunde mit Markenverzeichnis. Berlin, 1974. Similar armor discussed 70–155.

"From the Renaissance to the Industrial Revolution." In European Weapons and Armour. North Hollywood, CA, 1980. pp. 211–12, pl. 17C.

"Seigneur d'Assier, 1465–1546." In Galiot de Genouillac. Cahors, July 1983. p. 21.

"Pairs de France und Ihre Familien." Europäische Stammtafeln, N.F. X (1986). p. 7–8, pl. 7–12.

"Arms and Armor From the Permanent Collection." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 49, no. 1 (Summer 1991). pp. 21, 64, ill.

"The Tournament Armours of King Henry VIII of England." Livrustkammaren (1993). pp. 18–24, figs. 15–19.

"A History of its Technology." In The Royal Armoury at Greenwich, 1515–1649. Royal Armouries Monograph, Vol. 4. London, 1995. pp. 70–71.

"Greenwich Revisited: or Gunpowder and the Obsolescence of Armour." The Journal of the Arms and Armour Society XV, no. 7 (March 1998). pp. 426–443.

"La Prima Guerra d'Independenza Italiana, con gli assedi di Milano, Napoli, Firenze, il sacco di Roma e le Battaglie di Capo d'Orso e Gavinana, Parma." In Italia! Italia! 1526–1530. Parma, 2001. pp. 192–193, fig. T24 (color).

The Knight and the Blast Furnace: A History of the Metallurgy of Armour in the Middle Ages & the Early Modern Period. History of Warfare, Vol. 12. Leiden and Boston, 2003. pp. 750–751.

Henry VIII: Arms and the Man, 1509–2009. Leeds, 2009. pp. 151, 155–59, 214, 336.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide. New York, 2012. p. 162, ill.

"European Armour." In Arms & Armour In The Collection Of Her Majesty The Queen. 1st Ed ed. London, 2016. pp. 88, 105.

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