Friday, November 21, 2014

The Arms and Armor Department at the Metropolitan Museum of Art

I have walked through this exhibit many times, in awe. I felt it was time to photograph some of the splendor for you. These displays are amazing in person, and the museum does a fabulous job of educating and well as exciting the visitor.  

Arms and armor have been a vital part of virtually all cultures for thousands of years, pivotal not only in conquest and defense, but also in court pageantry and ceremonial events. Throughout time the best armor and weapons have represented the highest artistic and technical capabilities of the society and period in which they were made, forming a unique aspect of both art history and material culture.

The principal goals of the Arms and Armor Department are to collect, preserve, research, publish, and exhibit distinguished examples representing the art of the armorer, swordsmith, and gunmaker. The focus of the collection is on works that show outstanding design and decoration, rather than those of purely military or technical interest. Unlike the great dynastic armories now preserved as museum collections in Vienna, Madrid, Dresden, Paris, London, and Stockholm, the Museum's collection is a modern one, formed through the activities and interests of curators, trustees, private collectors, and donors over the past 125 years. The collection comprises approximately fourteen thousand objects, of which more than five thousand are European, two thousand are from the Near East, and four thousand from the Far East. It is one of the most comprehensive and encyclopedic collections of its kind. 
The Emma and Georgina Bloomberg Arms and Armor Court offers the most extensive selection in the United States of rare and finely made sixteenth- and seventeenth-century European armor for men and horses, created for kings and noblemen to use on the battlefield and in tournaments.
The gallery features a group of elaborately decorated Greenwich armors, from the English Royal workshops founded by King Henry VIII, and one of Henry's personal armors, made in Italy and worn by the king in his last campaign against the French at Calais in 1544. 
So cool to see these up close and personal.  

The following text will attempt to correct some of the most popular misconceptions, and to answer some of the questions most frequently asked by the public during guided tours of the Museum's arms and armor galleries.

Misconceptions and Related Questions Relating Armor
1. Armor was worn only by knights.
2. Women of earlier times never fought in battle or wore armor.
3. Armor was so expensive that only princes and rich nobility could afford it.
4. Armor is extremely heavy and renders the wearer immobile.
5. Knights had to be hoisted into their saddles with cranes.
6. How did men in armor go to the toilet?
7. The military salute originates from the raising of a visor.
8. "Chain mail" or "mail"?
9. How long did it take to make a suit of armor?
10. Details of armor: the lance rest and the codpiece explained.
11. Did Vikings wear horns on their helmets?
12. Armor became obsolete because of firearms.
13. The size of armor indicates that people in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance were smaller.
14. Men's clothing usually closes and buttons left over right because early armor was closed in such a manner.

You can go to the Metropolitan Museum's website HERE for the answers to questions above which are very interesting!! 




Armor Garniture of George Clifford (1558–1605), Third Earl of Cumberland
Made under the direction of Jacob Halder
(British, master armorer at the royal workshops at Greenwich, documented in England 1558–1608)
Date: 1586
Geography: Greenwich
Culture: British, Greenwich
Medium: Steel, gold
Dimensions: H. 69 1/2 in. (176.5 cm); Wt. 60 lb. (27.2 kg)
Classification: Armor for Man 





What's On View

Approximately eight hundred objects from the collection are on permanent display in the arms and armor galleries located in The John Pierpont Morgan Wing. These date from about the fifth to the late nineteenth century and offer a broad range of the best examples from Europe, America, Japan, India, and various Islamic cultures. In addition, the Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Gallery has periodically changing displays that focus on varied aspects of the collection.

Leave it to me to find a Smith and Wesson with Tiffany "jeweled" silver. I suppose if I were alive in 1891-1892, this would be my revolver of choice!  

I hope you enjoyed this little visit to "The Met" with me. There are so many various displays here, it really can target many interests. When you visit New York City, be sure to find some time to stop by this amazing museum and enjoy all it has to offer!!





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