Convex form, 21 3/8" diameter. Canvas and gesso over wood, painted both sides. The back black with original padded leather armrest. The grip and arm strap lacking. The front with gold on black ground, elaborately illustrating a scene from the Trojan Wars, taken from the Iliad, the figures in late 16th century dress. In the middle, Achilles and Agamemnon quarrel over the slave girl, Briseis. In the foreground, Achilles' riderless horse rears among soldiers with drawn swords and from the Heavens, the goddess Athena manifests as an owl, having intervened in the quarrel grasps the figure of Achilles in her talons. See Odescalchi Collection, Rome for a similar related example illustrated as #177 in the catalog for the collection. Italian painted shields of the 16th century are exceedingly rare. Shields such as these were often painted by major artists including Leonardo da Vinci and Caravaggio. The study of the example in the von Kienbusch Collection, Philadelphia Museum, states that "at least fifty painted shields are known," suggesting an existent group of that magnitude of size. (Studies in European Arms and Armor, 1992, p.100.) Of these, this example is very well-known, having changed hands about five times in the past century.