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Shield showing the Storming of New Carthage

Attributed to Girolamo di Tommaso da Treviso, Italian, born c. 1497, died 1544

Geography:
Made in Italy, Europe

Date:
c. 1535

Medium:
Wood, linen, gesso, gold, pigment

Dimensions:
Diameter: 24 inches (61 cm)

Curatorial Department:
European Decorative Arts and Sculpture

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:
1977-167-751

Credit Line:
Bequest of Carl Otto Kretzschmar von Kienbusch, 1977

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Label:

This shield was made to be used in grand ceremonies. The decoration on the exterior, based on a design by the painter Giulio Romano (1492/99–1546), depicts the storming of New Carthage (209 BCE), Spain—an important episode of the Second Punic War (218 to 201 BCE) and a great victory of the Roman general Publius Cornelius Scipio (237–183 BCE).

The decoration suggests a historical parallel between Scipio’s military achievements, many of which occurred in Africa, and the more recent victories of Holy Roman Emperor Charles V (ruled 1519 to 1556), who was returning in 1535 from a successful military campaign against Muslim pirates in northern Africa. The shield was probably commissioned for one of the ceremonies that were being held throughout Italy to welcome Emperor Charles V in triumph.

Additional information:
  • PublicationPhiladelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections

    In the early sixteenth century, shields painted with entire biblical, mythological, or historical episodes became fashionable in Western Europe. This parade shield, one of the finest of its kind, is delicately painted with an intricate panorama of the storming of New Carthage, attributed to the North Italian artist Girolamo da Treviso after a drawing by Giulio Romano of Mantua. Both the siege scene, which depicts an event that occurred in 209 B.C. during the Second Punic War, and the equestrian combat that decorates the reverse of the shield are executed in an unusual and delicate technique of applying shades of white, gray, and black over gold leaf, with details incised to reveal the gold beneath the pigments. Six similar shields that were probably made at the same time as this example can be also attributed to Girolamo da Treviso, who worked as a painter and sculptor for various noble Italian patrons. Unfortunately, neither the patron nor the reason for this commission is known, although the Kienbusch shield was once part of the famous armory of the Medici dukes of Florence. Donald J. LaRocca, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections (1995), p. 121.

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