Join organizing curator Riccardo Franci to learn about the exhibition Knights in Armor, in which some of the most aesthetically significant works from the Museo Stibbert’s collection of arms and armor are on display. While the aesthetics of arms and armor were always important to the warriors of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, their form evolved over time.
Medieval armor was simple, often covered with fabrics or leather—elegance and spectacle were delegated to the colors and decorations of drapes and horses’ caparisons. This changed during the Renaissance in the fifteenth century, when armor assumed the shape that we recognize today. Aesthetics became a touchstone for the metalsmiths who created elaborate suits of armor for rich and powerful landlords. Competition for the most extravagant armor led the art to its aesthetic apex in the sixteenth century. Unfortunately, this was also the century when firearms spread across European battlefields, declaring the end of the age of armor.
After earning a degree in conservation of cultural heritage, Riccardo Franci studied in Japan at the Department of Sciences for Cultural Heritage of the University of Nara. Since 2003, he has worked for the Museo Stibbert in Florence, Italy, and is currently the curator of the armory. He has curated special exhibitions in Italy and abroad and published books and articles about European and Japanese arms and armor.
Image at top: French. Close Helmet, ca. 1590. Steel, 11 3/4 x 13 x 7 7/8 in. Collection of Museo Stibbert, Florence, Italy