(French, active 1543–48)
Support: Cream(3) laid paper
Sheet: 41.3 x 29.3 cm (16 1/4 x 11 9/16 in.)
In memory of Ralph King, gift of Mrs. Ralph King; Ralph T. Woods, Charles G. King; and Frances King Schafer 1946.308
Catalogue raisonné: Robert-Dumesnil 5 (IX.183)
Henry II loved finely embossed parade armor. He died at the age of 41 after having his eye put out during a tournament.
Comparing Renaissance princes with distinguished ancient leaders was a common theme in laudatory speeches, literature, and art. In commemoration of Henri II’s coronation as King of France (reigned 1547–59), Nicolo della Casa portrayed the monarch as a valiant Roman general. Crowned with a laurel wreath, the king’s head is in full profile, the traditional format used on ancient coins and engraved gems. He wears a muscled ceremonial cuirass, its breastplate heavily ornamented with war trophies, mermaids, and fighting tritons. The historicized armor, derived from antique imperial portraits and figures of the war-god Mars, creates a powerful and timeless image of the French sovereign.
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