The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Parade shield
  • Parade shield
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • North Italy
  • c. 1570
  • Steel, gold, silver and velvet, damascened, embossed and chased
  • Diameter: 56.4 cm
    Weight: 4.18 kg
  • A330
  • European Armoury I
Commentary
History
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Parade shield or buckler, circular, of steel, convex at the centre, and the border flat. Heavily embossed, chased, encrusted with silver and damascened in gold; the edge, rounded, turned under, and bordered with a row of quatrefoil-headed rivets for the lining bands. Decorated in the centre with the second labour of Hercules: the destruction of the Lernæan Hydra, after an engraving by Frans Floris (1516-70). On the right Hercules is swinging his club, and crushing with his foot the sea-crab sent by Juno, with Iolas on the left searing with a torch a ten-headed Hydra; in the foreground is Chiron, the centaur who was wounded in the knee by Hercules in the course of his fifth labour; in the background is a landscape with castles. The border is decorated with four oval cartouches representing incidents in the life of Hercules among trophies: (1) his attack, as one of the Lapithæ, upon a centaur; (2) the carrying off of the pillars of Gades; (3) the strangling of the Nemæan Lion; and (4) Hercules taking upon his shoulders the globe for Atlas. The encircling band and borders of the cartouches are damascened with arabesques. The back is now lined with myrtle-green velvet (modern); the enarmes are secures by eight rosette-headed rivets.

    The same subject, probably making use of the same Floris print, forms part of the decoration of the roof of the Hôtel de Ville at Toulouse. There is a circular shield in the Army Museum at Warsaw, embossed with Hercules' labour with the robber Cacus, probably by the same hand.

    The central scene is based on an engraving by Cornelis Cort after Frans Floris, one of a series published in 1563 (Hollstein, Dutch and Flemish etchings, engravings, and woodcuts, 1450-1700, V, n.d., no. 176). The sources of the small scenes around the edges have not been traced.

    A round target embossed with the same subject, but with a different border, was in the collection of Baron Percy (sold Paris, Boucher, 15 June 1825 and following days, lot 71; Paris, Bonnefons de Lavialle and Roussel, 18 January 1830 and following days, lot 19). It may previously have been in the collection of the comte de Saint Morys (F. Arquie-Bruley, 'Un précurseur: Ie comte de Sainte-Morys (1782-1817) collectioneur d' antiquités nationales', Gazette des Beaux-Arts, CXXII, 1980, pp. 109-18, and CXXIII, 1981, pp. 61-77).

    A. Reinhard has pointed out that what seems to have been a very similar shield was sold in the Heldebrandt sale in Munich, Maillinger, 15 April 1879 and following days, lot 387 (S. Pyhrr, letter of 15 October 1979). O. Gamber has suggested (personal communication, 1983) that the workmanship of A330 is close to that of a saddle-steel signed LUCIO.IER in the Czartoryski collection, Cracow (no. XIV 412; Thomas and Gamber, 1958, p. 792, fig. p. 810). The abbreviated form of the second name makes its identification very difficult.