Shield

Maker: Attributed to Girolamo da Treviso (Italian, Treviso ca. 1498–1544 Boulogne-sur-Mer)

Date: ca. 1535

Geography: probably Bologna

Culture: Italian, probably Bologna

Medium: Wood, linen, gesso, gold leaf, polychromy

Dimensions: Diam. 24 5/8 in. (62.53 cm)

Classification: Shell

Credit Line: Gift of Stephen V. Grancsay, 1942

Accession Number: 42.50.16

Description

This is one of a small group of Renaissance pageant shields painted on both their interiors and exteriors with scenes from Roman history and Classical mythology in grisaille (tones of gray) on a ground of gold leaf. Many of the details are rendered in sgraffito (the technique or scratching through a surface to reveal a different color underneath, in this case, gold). The gold thus exposed is impressed with comma-shaped marks to heighten its light-reflecting quality. Girolamo da Treviso was one of the few sixteenth-century artists to employ the demanding sgraffito technique, which had gone out of fashion by the late fifteenth century.

The battle scenes on the inside of the shield, perhaps illustrating episodes from the life of the Roman general Scipio, show a keen observation of Classical costume and armor, both of which were known from antique sculpture and coins. The style of painting, the physical types, and the energetic poses are strongly indebted to Giulio Romano (about 1499–1546), who was Raphael's assistant and later was the court painter to the dukes of Mantua. Girolamo da Treviso worked with Giulio in Mantua in 1527.

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