"Requiescat" by Briton Rivière
This oil on canvas painting by English artist Briton Rivière was purchased by the Art Gallery of New South Wales (from the artist) in 1897-1898. Completed in 1888, it depicts an armoured medieval knight lying supine on top of a wooden bed and blue floral-patterned bedspread while a dog (usually identified as a bloodhound) gazes up at him. A wreath on the knight’s chest suggests that he is dead, as does the title of the painting: “Requiescat”. Based on the role of the requiem mass in Catholic burial rites, the term “requiescat” (which literally means "rest") refers to a prayer for the repose of the dead, as expressed in the common epitaph “rest in peace”. The knight in this painting is wearing a chain mail byrnie (or hauberk) and various pieces of plate armour, including a breastplate, pauldrons to protect the shoulders, rerebraces and vambraces on his arms, cuisses, poleyns and greaves on his legs and metal shoes known as sabatons. Plate armour began to replace mail armour from the fourteenth century.
For more on the artist, see Simon Reynolds, ‘Riviere, Briton (1840–1920)’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004 [http://www.oxforddnb.com/view/article/35766].