Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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Shield of Henry II of France (reigned 1547–59)

Date:
ca. 1555
Culture:
French
Medium:
Steel, gold, silver
Dimensions:
H. 25 in. (63.5 cm); W. 18 in. (45.7 cm); Wt. 7 lb. (3175 g)
Classification:
Shields
Credit Line:
Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1934
Accession Number:
34.85
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 374
The battle scene at the center is thought to depict the victory of Hannibal and the Carthaginians over the Romans in Cannae in 216 B.C., which here could be interpreted as an allusion to the struggle of France against the Holy Roman Empire during the sixteenth century. In the strapwork borders are the intertwined letters: H for Henry II (reigned 1547–59); C for Catherine de Médicis, his queen; and possibly also D for Diane de Poitiers, his mistress. Interspersed with the initials are crescents, the king's personal badge and a reference to the moon goddess Diana and her namesake Diane de Poitiers.

The design is very similar to a series of drawings for the decoration of armor attributed to Etienne Delaune, Jean Cousin the Elder, and Baptiste Pellerin, all artists active in Paris.
Ex. coll.: M. Fiérard, Paris; (Fiérard sale, Rue des Jeuneurs, Paris, March 7, 1846, lot. no. 85); Duc de Cambacérès, Paris.
Paris. Musée de l'Armée. "Exposition Universelle Internationale de 1889: Exposition Rétrospective du Travail et des Sciences Anthropologiques," 1889, no. 151 (as "Bouclier envoyé par Laurent de Médicis au Dauphin (depuis Henri II) pour le Turnois donné à Avignon en l'honneur du mariage du Prince avec Catherine de Médicis. (App. au marquis de Valori, lieutenant au 18me bataillon de chasseurs à pied)).

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "In the Presence of Kings: Royal Treasures from the Collections of The Metropolitan Museum of Art," April 18–June 11, 1967, no. 17.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Masterpieces of Fifty Centuries," November 14, 1970–February 14, 1971.

Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. "The Triumph of Humanism: A Visual Survey of the Decorative Arts of the Renaissance," October 22, 1977–January 8, 1978.

Paris. Musée de l'Armée. "Sous L'Égide de Mars: Armures des Princes d'Europe," March 16–June 26, 2011, no. 38.

Catalogue d'Objets d'Art et de Haute Curiosité, Quelques bons Tableaux et Dessins... Composant le Cabinet de feu M. Fierard. Paris, March 7, 1846. no. 85.

Exposition universelle de 1889. Catalogue Général Officiel: Exposition Rétrospective du Travail et des Sciences Anthorpologiques. Vol. 5. Arts Militaires. Lille: L. Danel, 1889. p. 43, no. 151 (possibly this shield).

Hefner-Alteneck, Jakob Heinrich von. Original-zeichnungen Deutscher Meister Des Sechzehnten Jahrhunderts Zu Ausgeführten Kunstwerken Für Könige Von Frankreich Und Spanien Und Andere Fürsten. Frankfurt A.M.: H. Keller, 1889. pl. 9, fig. A (original design for the border of this shield).

Catalogue Hungarian Military Exhibition. Budapest, 1896. no. 3394 (wrought iron copy of this shield).

Dean, Bashford. Notes on Arms and Armor. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1916.

Laking, Guy Francis, Charles A. de Cosson, and Francis Henry Cripps-Day. A Record of European Armour and Arms Through Seven Centuries. Vol. IV. London: G. Bell and Sons, 1921. pp. 246–59 (related parade shields discussed).

Buttin, Charles. Bulletin du Musée d'Art et d'Histoire de Genève 2 (1924). pp. 225–40 (related parade shields discussed).

P. P. Caproni & Brother. Catalogue of Reproductions of Sculpture: Ancient, Medieval and Modern : Part One. Boston: P. P. Caproni and Brother, 1928.

Grancsay, Stephen V. "A Shield of Henry II of France." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 29, no. 12, pt. 1 (December 1934). pp. 212–16.

Grancsay, Stephen V. Historical Armor: A Picture Book. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1944. p. 4, pl. 4.

Comstock, Helen. "The Connoisseur in America." Connoisseur 116 (September 1945). pp. 41–42, ill.

Grancsay, Stephen V. Historical Armor: A Picture Book. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1946. p. 4, pl. 4.

Grancsay, Stephen V. Historical Armor: A Picture Book. 3rd ed. ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1951. p. 4, pl. 4.

Grancsay, Stephen V. Historical Armor: A Picture Book. 4th ed. ed. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1957. p. 4, pl. 4.

Grancsay, Stephen V. "Royal Armorers: Antwerp or Paris?." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 18, no. 1 (Summer 1959). pp. 1–7, cover, inside cover, ill.

Thomas, Bruno. "Die Münchner Harnischvorzeichnungen des Etienne Delaune für die Emblem- und die Schlangen-Garnitur Heinrichs II. von Frankreich." Jahrbuch Der Kunsthistorischen Sammlungen in Wien 56 (1960). pp. 7–62.

Thomas, Bruno. "Die Münchner Waffenvorzeichnungen des Etienne Delaune und die Prunkschilde Heinrichs II. von Frankreich." Jahrbuch Der Kunsthistorischen Sammlungen in Wien 58 (1962). pp. 101–68.

Nickel, Helmut. "The Battle of the Crescent." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 24, no. 3 (November 1965). pp. 111–27, figs. 1, 6, 14, 23.

Nickel, Helmut. In the Presence of Kings: Royal Treasures from the Collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1967. no. 16.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Kenneth Clark. Masterpieces of Fifty Centuries. New York: E. P. Dutton, 1970. p. 239, no. 248, ill.

Nickel, Helmut. Ullstein-Waffenbuch: Eine Kulturhistorische Waffenkunde Mit Markenverzeichnis. Berlin: Ullstein, 1974. p. 38, ill.

Grancsay, Stephen V., D. Graeme Keith, and Dr. Charles Avery. The Triumph of Humanism: A Visual Survey of the Decorative Arts of the Renaissance. San Francisco: Legion of Honor, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, 1977.

Nickel, Helmut. "Arms and Armor from the Permanent Collection." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 49, no. 1 (Summer 1991). pp. 26–27, 64, ill. p. 27.

Zerner, Henri. L'Art de la Renaissance en France: l'Invention du Classicisme. Paris: Flammarion, 1996. p. 273, fig. 309.

Renaudeau, Olivier, Jean-Pierre Reverseau, Musée de l'Armée, and Jean-Paul Sage-Frénay. "Armures des Princes d'Europe." In Sous l'Égide de Mars. Paris: Éditions Nicolas Chaudun, 2010. pp. 201, 202, 205–206, ill. pp. 207, pp. 210, no. 38.



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