"Armour with lions"

Due to its leonine symbolism and its proportions, "The armour with lions" probably belonged to Francis I (additional object). Indeed, it would have fitted the sovereign, who was 1.98 m tall. Its provenance gives us another clue: the armour was kept in the armoury of the Princes of Condé, at the Château de Chantilly. Unlike armour worn in battle, this suit has no mezail (designed to protect the face) or leg guards. This is parade armour which emphasises the monarch's heroic aspect.

About the work



"Armour with lions" attributed to Francis I
© musée de l'Armée (Dist. RMN-Grand Palais) Pascal Segrette


"The armour with lions" fits in with the "Grande maniera" style developed by Milanese armourers from 1530 onwards and inspired by the equipment used by the warrior heroes of classical Antiquity. This armour is the work of Giovanni Paolo Negroli, who excelled at raised relief decorations enhanced with damascening (gold and silver inlays).





The theme of the lion, the king of the animals and a symbol of manly virtues, can be seen on the helmet, shoulders, elbows and hands.




Visitors will also notice the collar of the Order of Saint Michael, an order of knights founded by Louis XI, worked into the metal at chest level. Identifiable thanks to the shell motifs, its medallion depicts the archangel defeating the devil, who is hunched up at his feet.

Beneath the collar, the silver cross on the breast plate is thought to be the Savoy cross, in reference to the mother of Francis I, Louise of Savoy, Princess of the Ducal House of Savoy. It might also refer to the white cross of the French Army.



Collar of the Order of Saint Michael and silver cross on the breast plate
© musée de l'Armée (Dist. RMN-Grand Palais)




Date : Circa 1540-1545

Width : 0,78m and Height : 1,17 m

Weight : 16,2 kg

Author : Giovani Paolo Negroli, Milanese armourer (1513-1569)

Inventory no. : G 50

Materials : Iron, brass, silver, gold, textile and leather

Techniques : Damascening, repoussé, chasing

Historique : Was part of the armoury of the Princes of Condé in Chantilly before being transported to Paris in the Revolutionary period. The armour was added to the collections of the Musée d'Artillerie, forerunner of the Musée de l'Armée, in 1806.

Place of creation : Milan, Lombardy (Italy)