The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
  • Pavise
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Germany, probably Ravensburg in Württemberg
  • 15th century
  • Wood, pig-skin, leather, black paint and white or yellow paint
  • Height: 103.7 cm
    Width: 44.6 cm, maximum
    Weight: 4.14 kg
  • A307
  • European Armoury I
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Pavise, having a vertical semi-circular gutter down the middle, the sides nearly parallel, the top and bottom rounded. Of wood covered with pig skin, the whole surface painted with a representation of a gate with two castellated turrets, black on a white or yellow ground. On the back near the top at the left is a staple, and on the right a hook, both for the attachment of the guige or carrying-strap. The hook allows the guige to be released quickly. Below these are a pair of staples flanking the central hollow and linked by a leather strap from which hang the remains of a vertical leather grip, presumably once connected to a group of three staples (the central one missing) further down the central hollow.

    Pavises of various sizes with the arms of Prague were included in the sale of General Baron Peucker at Brussels, 1854 (Cripps Day, Armour Sales, p. 196, Fig. 110 and p. 200, Fig. 117). Examples, possibly from this source, are in the Military History Museum, Brussels (III, 1) in the Musée de Cluny at Paris; in the Germanisches National Museum at Nuremberg (No. W1279, but this one is smaller); the National Museum at Copenhagen; in the Historical Museum at Frankfurt-am-Main, and elsewhere. There are a number of variants in the City Museum at Prague. One similar to No. A307 is in the Kienbusch collection in the Philadelphia Museum of Art (Cat., No. 284, PI. LXXXVIII, with a list of comparable specimens).
    The arms of this shield, argent, a castle sable, which are incorrectly coloured to be those of the city of Prague, may represent Ravensburg in Württenberg (see V. Denkstein, Acta Musei Nationalis Prague, 1962, pp. 185-228, No. 37).

    These medium-sized pavises were designed to be carried in the way illustrated in the woodcuts of the Triumph of Maximilian, that is by means of a handle shaped like a capital I with the opposite ends of the serifs attached to the back of the shields on each side of the central hollow. True archers' pavises, supported by a prop or props, are much larger, like those from the town hall at Erfurt in Prussia, and others at Bern (respectively B. Dean, Bulletin of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, XVIII, pp. 11-13, and R. Wegeli, Inventor, I, Nos. 1-12 and 27-35).