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Restoration of Painted Shield of the Mid-16th Century

Shield: wood, leather; painting, gilding. Western Europe, mid-16th c.

This round shield, or so-called ‘rondache’, is one of the important and valuable exhibits in the Hermitage collection of the European Arms and Armour. The shield is remarkable for its lavish and exquisite décor on both front and back sides proving that it was used for ceremonial purposes.

The shield is slightly convex; its diameter is 48 cm. Covered in leather with gilded patterns on the front and inner sides. On the inside, there is a leather cushion and three straps. The surface of the shield is decorated with painting and gilded ornaments. The intricate ornamentation is incorporated into the shield’s round shape. In the center of the front composition there is a square "French" escutcheon party per cross, with helmet and lambrequin. Quarterly, I and IV a lion rampant supporting a tower; II and III are divided into four quarters, fleur de lys in each. On the inside of the shield there are ornaments of plants, animals and birds.

Preservation condition: losses, cracks and partial deformation of the leather, most likely caused by warping of the wooden base; metal parts are corroded. Ground and paint layers have poor adhesion to the base; there are exfoliations, losses of paint layer, fine craquelure, losses of painting and gilded ornament on all surface. The shield is covered with uneven layer of yellowed top varnish. The entire surface is covered with dust.

Necessary conservation treatment includes:

  • Research on the manufacturing technology;
  • Conservation of the wooden base and metal details;
  • reinforcement of the ground, paint and gilding layers;
  • Cleaning the surface from the soiling;
  • Removal of leather deformations and filling in losses;
  • Filling in of the lost ground and paint layers;
  • Thinning of the varnish,
  • Retouching of the restoration ground and reconstruction of the ornamentation;
  • Covering the painted surface with protective layer

The project has been implemented with the support of the Individual members of the Hermitage Friends' Club.