Renaissance Shield

Renaissance parade shield, probably by Leonardo da VinciThis round wood and leather shield, heavily decorated in relief with classical figures, is thought to have been in William Hunter's original collection. Surviving correspondence shows that in 1779 a Dr John Wilkinson offered to sell Hunter a "Roman shield made in the reign of Nero … the Shield of Camillus" but we have no record of Hunter's reply. It is a very rare and important Renaissance parade shield with allegorical decoration from Milan at the time of Leonardo - currently being researched by Leonardo and Renaissance expert, Professor Martin Kemp.

It appears in the 1813 ‘General Account of the Hunterian Museum’ by Captain James Laskey (c. 1760 - 1829) and is described as a “Roman Target or Shield, in a high state of preservation, and supposed to be unique. It consists of a hollowed round piece of wood, which is covered with a thick strong leather, beautifully carved; the principal figure is Minerva helmeted, her right hand holding erect a spear or lance; her left reclining gracefully on an aegis or shield of an antique form, on which is portrayed Medusa's head. Her attributes, the Owl, Cock, &c. surround the figure, the remainder of the surface is filled up by pointed tracery, foliage and flowers. It is an article of great rarity and beauty.”