Pageants in pseudoclassical dress were popular in Europe from the sixteenth through the eighteenth century. An elaborate costume of the kind displayed here may have been worn for a theatrical performance or a court festivity, such as a ball or carousel in which the theme was taken from classical mythology or history. The embroidered tunic represents an embossed bronze cuirass of the type worn by high-ranking Roman officers. The stylized Greek helmet is richly decorated with mythological and allegorical figures. Inside the helmet is the original paper label that identifies the Parisian maker as Halle dit Mercier and advertises his ability to provide helmets, shields, masks, costumes, and scenery for any occasion.
Fontainebleau. Musée national du Château de Fontainebleau. "Théâtre de cour, les spectacles à Fontainebleau au XVIIIe siècle," October 19, 2005—January 23, 2006.
Rambaud, Mireille. Documents du Minutier Central concernant l'Histoire de l'Art (1700-1750). Vol. 1. Paris, 1964–1971. vol. 1, p. 169.
Pyhrr, Stuart W. "Textiles in the Metropolitan Museum of Art." M.M.A. Bulletin, Winter 1995/1996 Vol.LIII, no 3 (1995/1996). vol. LIII, p. 54, no. 3, ill.
Artist: Helmet includes original paper label of Hallé (French, Paris, active ca. 1780–1800)Date: ca. 1788–90Medium: Linen, papier-mâché, bole, gold leaf, graphite (helmet); silk, cotton, metal coils and spangles, metallic yarn (tunic); steel, wood, gesso, silver, gold leaf (sword)Accession: 1988.65.1–.2; 1995.93a, bOn view in:Gallery 376
Artist: Part of the decoration design by Jean Cousin the Elder (French, Souci (?) ca. 1490–ca. 1560 Paris (?))Date: ca. 1555Medium: Steel, gold, silver, leather, textileAccession: 39.121a–nOn view in:Gallery 374