On a Saturday in December 2019, the NYC Urban Sketchers sketched at the “The Last Knight: The Art, Armor, and Ambition of Maximilian I ” exhibit at The Metropolitan Museum. I was overwhelmed by the sure quantity of silver on display. It was displayed in a gallery that had been painted dark grey, and each piece was illuminated with a strong halogen light. The result was that the highly polished silver reflected so much light that it appeared white. And every thing else in the room faded into darkness. I could swear that the cones on my retina that are supposed to see color were temporarily paralyzed. Everything in this exhibit was either black or white. The piece of armor that I sketched was a piece given by Maximilian to King Henry VIII for a horse. It was displayed on a horse manikin. The exhibit was impressive for the sure amount of silver armor commissioned by one individual and the fascinating history that was included in the typed descriptions of the armor pieces. Maximilian was not a royal but he wielded considerable power through his relationships with kings. The Metropolitan’s regular armor display has more variety and is more fun to sketch, but this exhibit was impressive and intriguing because it was displayed so differently from the regular armor collection.
I was so struck by the “black and white” reality that the gallery created, that I initially drew this picture using only black and grey ink pens combined with grey and white chalk pencils. And I drew it on a grey paper that matched the grey paint on the gallery walls. Later I decided, to add color — not to the armor, but to the items around it, so as to emphasize the stark appearance of the silver.
There is a review of this exhibit, in the New York Times on October 25, 2019. Link