Bellona was the Ancient Roman Goddess of War, sister of Mars. It’s the military helmet that identifies her as such in paintings, as well as her weapons of war. In art she is almost always depicted wearing plate armour, and since there are so few references pictures of plate armour for women these images of Bellona are a great place to start researching for your own designs.
So often modern armour designs for women don’t appear to provide much coverage. However as we can see here, Rembrandt clearly wanted Bellona to be well protected as she entered battle! She is covered from neck to hip with a breastplate and gorget, and her upper arms are also well protected.
The effect over the breasts is unusual – it looks like strips of metal shaped and pinned to each other in order to create a pleated effect. It seems almost reptilian in nature, like scales.
The bottom of the breastplate is edged in beautiful golden metalwork that appears to be decorated with jewels that match the sash worn over her chest.
The garments worn under the armour is equally as regal as the armour itself. It seems to be a a long, black, buttoned up coat as the under garment, with a surcoat or similar over the top. Perhaps red velvet for the surcoat, but heavily decorated with gold detail and jewels.
It’s possible that Rembrandt had seen some examples of female armour. There must have been some in existence! However even if he hadn’t and this was entirely his own design for what women’s armour might have looked like, it’s almost certain that he had seen a wide variety of fashionable armour first-hand on which to base his own interpretation. Either way, it’s a pretty distinctive design and would be an incredible piece for a female fighter taking to the battlefield.
The shield with the head of Medusa is pretty nice too!