Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Shield of Henry II of France (reigned 1547–59)

ca. 1555
Steel, gold, silver
H. 25 in. (63.5 cm); W. 18 in. (45.7 cm); Wt. 7 lb. (3175 g)
Credit Line:
Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1934
Accession Number:
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.

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

Laking, Guy Francis, Sir, Charles Alexander Cosson, and Francis Henry Cripps-Day. A Record of European Armour and Arms through Seven Centuries. Vol. 3. London: G. Bell and Sons, 1920.

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

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

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.

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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