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Old And Sold Antiques Digest Article

Louvre And Metropolitan Exchange Famous Suits Of Armor

( Article orginally published July 1952 )

The Louvre and the Metropolitan Museum, of Art have exchanged two of the world's rarest suits of armor suits attributed by many scholars to a pair of history's most famous King Henrys--for exhibition through October 31.

The Louvre's suit, now on display in the Great Hall of the Metropolitan Museum, belonged to France's King Henry II. The Metropolitan's etched and gilded Genouilhac armor, on exhibition at the Louvre, is considered by English authorities to have been made for England's King Henry VIII, and by others, to have been worn by Galiot de Genouilhac. Master of Artillery under Louis XII and Francis I of France. This enriched harness is ranked by armor cognoscenti as the finest 16th century suit extant.

The French armor is one of the Paris museum's most treasured works of art and for many years was displayed in its Gallery of Apollo. Scholars at the Metropolitan will now have a chance to compare it with a Henry II suit of their own. Both Henry II harnesses have been traced back to the French Royal Collection and have certain features in common. Some of the designs on their richly embossed surfaces, for instance, have been identified among drawings in the Munich State Library.

The Metropolitan's armor is elaborately etched and gilded on every square inch of its surface. English scholars believe its designs may have been the work of Hans Holhein, the great German portraitist, The Genouilhac and Louvre suits are alike in these two respects: each is probably the best surviving example of the decorative technique used in its creation; and both are concrete instances of French patronage of the greatest artist-armorers of the sixteenth century. The two suits are in excellent condition and almost without restoration.

Stephan Grancsay, curator of arms and armor at Thn Metropolitan and one of the leading armor experts in the world, has been invited by the Louvre to write articles on both harnesses for its official publication.

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