This 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.”