The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
  • Target
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Milan, Italy
  • c. 1550
  • Wood, boiled leather, leather and gold, embossed, tooled and gilded
  • Diameter: 57.6 cm
    Weight: 2.5 kg
  • A311
  • European Armoury III
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Circular shield or target, similar in style to Wallace Collection A310 and A312. The basis is of wood, convex and covered with black boiled leather embossed and tooled with a circular panel in the centre representing Caesar on horseback being presented with the head of Pompey; around this is a band containing four circular medallions with male portrait busts, and between them trophies of arms connected by a looped and knotted riband, an outer band is decorated with scrolled foliage. The bands are bordered by three concentric wreaths. At the top is an oblong aperture into which a lantern was fixed. The back is also covered black leather and decorated with two oval panels representing Hercules and the Nemæan Lion, and Pan(?), the remainder filled in with arabesques and floral scrolls; the plain oblong panel in the centre is without padding or loops as one would expect. The leather of the front bears traces of gilding.

    A leather shield with the same subject was in the E. de Roziere collection, sold Paris, Fillet & Juste, 19th-21st March 1860, lot 55, and is reproduced in the catalogue. A311 was certainly still in the Meyrick collection at that time, since it was exhibited at South Kensington, 1869, as No. 375. A similar scene occurs on a comparable target in the Hermitage Museum, Leningrad (Z.O. No. 3078). Another, previously compared to A311 is in the Deutsches Ledermuseum at Offenbach am Main (1974 Cat., No. 1.36.20, illus.) is inscribed BP. The borders are quite different in design, and the work is not apparently by the same hand. In this case the subject has been identified as David presenting the head of Goliath to Saul. A target comparable to that in the Ledermuseum, in the Victoria and Albert Museum is also inscribed BP, which suggests that these are the maker's initials (No. 1574-1855; Hayward, Armour, 1951, PI. 28).

    These leather shields were used for parade purposes, being the lighter to carry than the richly gilt and etched ones of metal. The designs of the embossed armour on metal were sometimes copied in cuir bouilli. Morions were also made of leather en suite (e.g. Musée de l' Armée, Paris, H183).