I’m an American fascinated with all things British, especially manor houses. In my Yankee mind, every English country house has a butler, a stable full of horses, and an ominous-looking suit of armor standing guard in the hall near the front door.
But then, a funny thing happened.
While browsing through The Metropolitan Museum of Art collections, I came across this eighteenth century helmet and shield, and all my previous fascinations with battle armor went out the window.
It’s gorgeous! No clunky, clanking armor here; just beautiful design, plenty of gilt, and a deep blue patina that makes every beautiful detail stand out.
This kind of armor was symbolic, rather than functional. Its design was based on Classical themes that remind me of Greek and Roman heroes.
It’s also the kind of armor that was created to impress all who saw it. Very probably it graced an important place in a grand castle or estate, in the same way we’d hang a Monet or Rembrandt so it could be viewed and admired.
Thanks to this display at The Met I now have an entirely new take on armor, and a new bit of inspiration to use when I want to imagine the luxurious interior of a great English country house.
If you’d like to know more about this helmet and shield (as well as other armor on display), follow this link to The Met’s website.