Reminiscent of visored bascinets (a type of Medieval knight helmet), this highly unusual pair of gilt bronze military trophy elements feature an open helmet with three plumes arising from the top. Dating to circa 1860, these decorative and heavy bronze sculptures would have been built in to a larger structure or mounted directly into a corner section of paneling as part of a larger “Trophee Militaire” themed space. The “trophy’s” origins go back to Greek and Roman celebrations of military victories, where the military arms of the defeated enemy were hung from oak trees. Beginning in the 1600s, trophy motifs with such themes as music, hunting, theater, or the seasons became very popular in France. These themes, originally intended for interior and exterior architectural decoration, eventually spread to textiles, embroidery, and marquetry. Today, you can observe military style trophies decorating the interior and exterior of important buildings throughout France. Some of the most impressive carved military reliefs currently on display are the bas relief limestone carvings adorning the Cercle National des Armées in Paris.
The bronze helmets seen here have a lozenge patterned background with roundels at the vertices. Each helmet is surrounded by large, curled acanthus leaves that rest upon a curved quarter plinth with several layers of molding. At the top of each trophy is a quarter entablature with additional molding. These cast sculptures are made of solid gilt bronze and weigh 63 lbs each. They would make fascinating and unique decor wherever they are placed.
CONDITION: Good antique condition with wear commensurate to age and use, including buildup and light loss of gilding. Minor nicks, rubs, and fleabites. Please see photos for details.