This cuirass comprises an important part of a group unique in the records of arms and armor-two matching full armors of finest (royal) quality. They are embossed in high relief with figures of classical Gods, putti and dolphins based on the designs of Étienne Delaune (1519-83) the French goldsmith responsible for the finest decorative designs for French armor of the period, in particular embossed parade shields. The central motif is of Venus, Mars, and Cupid. The remaining armor include a half armor (John Higgins Woodman Armory Museum, Worcester, MA, #JWHA 2549) comprising breastplate, back, articulated tassets, pauldrons and full arms. The breastplate of that armor has been modified in the early 17th century by removing approximately the bottom third to conform to then current fashion. A pair of gauntlets from one of the armors belonging to the Metropolitan Museum of Art was loaned for display with that armor. A helmet of one of the armors is in the collection of the Museo Stibbert, Florence. This cuirass is unaltered as made and the only portion in private hands. The deep peascod form of this breastplate, a reflection of clothing fashion of the period, can be compared to a breastplate in the Royal Armories, Leeds, #III.1218. A breastplate of similar form is worn by King Henry III of France in a portrait by Francois Cloute. The decoration can be compared to the incomplete armor in the National Army Museum, Paris illustrated in the catalog, p. 53/4 and, Bruno Thomas Die Munchner Harnischvorziechnungen mit Rankendekor des Etienne Delaune.
Provenance: Louis Bachereau, Paris, 1905, Lord Waldorf Astor of Hever (Hever Castle)
Loaned: Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1992-93