Shield Bearer with the Ducal Arms of Saxony

Designer Hans Daucher German

Not on view

Honestone is a type of limestone with a fine texture and yellow-gray coloration that make it eminently suitable for imitating the qualities of human flesh. It frequently was used for sculpture during the Renaissance in upper Bavaria, where it was quarried. In the same period cherubic shieldbearersw ere much in vogue for altars. We can posit that this lad was originally an angel (holes for his wings, which were perhaps made of gilt metal, have been filled in the back) and that he stood steadying his shield, carved with the ducal arms of Saxony, high on the top left of an altar. The heraldic insignia are actually presented in reverse for a decorative reason: they no doubt faced the armorial device sustained by a fellow shieldbearer at top right. The present figure is the only element of the dismantled altar known to survive. The whole must have been quite splendid in effect, with skin tones and details picked out sparingly in polychromy and gilding.

Shield Bearer with the Ducal Arms of Saxony, Hans Daucher (German, Ulm ca. 1485–1538 Stuttgart), Honestone (Jurassic limestone), partially polychromed and gilt, German, Augsburg

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High