The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City has announced a major gift of European arms and armor from Ronald S. Lauder.
The ninety-one objects from Lauder's collection — the most significant grouping of European arms and armor given to the museum since 1942 — includes a parade burgonet of silvered and gilt steel embossed with ornament in low relief that was specially made sometime around 1560 for a member of the Colonna family of Rome, as well as important shields, swords and daggers, maces, crossbows, and firearms. The works also include a suit of seventeenth-century field armor made in Tuscany in a workshop patronized by the Medicis — one of only two known in the world — and a set for field and tournament complete with shaffron that was made in the royal court workshops at Greenwich for presentation as a gift to Friedrich Ulrich, Duke of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel (1591–1634).
In addition to the objects, the gift will provide the museum's Department of Arms and Armor with significant financial support. In recognition of the gift, the museum will name the department's suite of eleven galleries the Ronald S. Lauder Galleries of Arms and Armor. Neither the museum nor Lauder disclosed the value of the gift.
"Since I was a teenager I have been fascinated by and had a special love for arms and armor," said Lauder. "I would spend hours at the Met, imagining the stories of knights, kings, and princes. Later, I realized that arms and armor had a distinct beauty all [their] own…. In my early twenties, I began assembling my own collection with the help of Stephen Grancsay (1929–1964), one of the Met's early curators [of] arms and armor. The donation we are announcing today represents nearly fifty-five years of collecting, and I could not have done it without the help of the curators at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. When I began thinking about where I wanted my collection to ultimately be displayed, it was only fitting that it would all come back to the Met."