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.
Granscay, S. V. Historical Armor - A Picture Book. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, pl. 4.

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, December 1944. p. 4, pl. 4.

Granscay, S. V., A. Hyatt Mayor, James J. Rorimer, William Holmes Forsyth, Bruno Thomas, Sir Richard C. Jebb, Randolph Bullock, Stephen V. Grancsay, and Helmut Nickel. "The New Galleries of Oriental Arms and Armor." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin (May 1958).

Granscay, S. V. "The Japanese armor gallery in the Metropolitan Museum of Art." Connoisseur 148 (1961).

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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