Please complete the form to email this item.

The Italian Poets Shield

  • Object:

    Shield

  • Place of origin:

    Paris, France (possibly, made)
    London, England (possibly, made)

  • Date:

    1851 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Vechte, Antoine, born 1799 - died 1868 (decorated by)
    Le Page Moutier (made and retailed by)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Steel, embossed and chased

  • Museum number:

    1482-1851

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

  • Download image

This shield is known as 'The Italian Poets' Shield. It was decorated by the celebrated French metalworker Antoine Vechte with portraits of medieval poets and scenes from their works. The Museum bought it from Le Page Moutier of Paris for £220 at the Great Exhibition of 1851.

During the nineteenth century the art of fine metal chasing was extolled as true to Renaissance craftsmanship. Vechte was its master. Lauded as the new Cellini, his vases, candelabra and shields were highlights of the metals manufacturers' stands at a number of international exhibitions.

This shield recalls a sixteenth-century tradition in which armour and weapons made for parade and display were as much the products of the goldsmith as the armourer. On it Vechte has chased portraits of poets and scenes from their works including Ariosto (1474-1533), Tasso (1544-95), Dante (1265-1321) and Petrarch (1304-74). The quality of the workmanship is extraordinary.

Physical description

Steel shield, embossed and chased, designed and chased by Antoine Vechte (1799-1868), incorporating portraits of Italian poets and scenes from their works: Ruggiero rescues Angelica (from Ariosto's Orlando Furioso), Carlo and Ubaldo in search of Rinaldo (from Tasso's Gerusalemme Liberata), the centaur Cacus attacked by snakes (from Dante's Inferno), and the poet lamenting the captive state of Italy (from Petrarch's Rime CXXVIII and letters to Emperor Charles V).

Place of Origin

Paris, France (possibly, made)
London, England (possibly, made)

Date

1851 (made)

Artist/maker

Vechte, Antoine, born 1799 - died 1868 (decorated by)
Le Page Moutier (made and retailed by)

Materials and Techniques

Steel, embossed and chased

Marks and inscriptions

Le Page
Vechte

Dimensions

Depth: 27 cm, Weight: 4.24 kg

Object history note

This shield, bought for £220 from Le Page Moutier of Paris at the London 1851 Exhibition, incorporates portraits of poets and scenes from their works: Ariosto (1474-1533), Ruggiero rescues Angelica (Orlando Furioso, X, 92-115); Tasso (1544-95), Carlo and Ubaldo in search of Rinaldo (Gerusalemme Liberata, XV, 55-66); Dante (1265-1321), the centaur Cacus attacked by snakes (Inferno, XXV, 16-24); Petrarch (1304-74), the poet laments the captive state of Italy (Rime CXXVIII, and letters to Emperor Charles IV). Vechte established his reputation in Paris, but worked in London from about 1849 to 1862.

Historical significance: Vechte worked in London during the 1850s for the major firm of Hunt and Roskell. His work was to have a profound influence on contemporary English designers.

In 1854 the Museum employed Elkington and Company to make electrotype reproductions of this shield for use by design students and to sell commercially. Silvered and oxidised copies cost £4. 15s. Three electrotypes of the shield remain in the Museum's collection: REPRO.1854-44, REPRO.1854C-44, REPRO.1854D-44.

Historical context note

During the nineteenth century the art of fine metal chasing was extolled as true to Renaissance craftsmanship. Antoine Vechte was its master. Lauded as the new Cellini, his vases, candelabra and shields were highlights of the metals manufacturers' stands at international exhibitions.

This shield recalls a sixteenth-century tradition in which armour and weapons made for parade and display were as much the products of the goldsmith as the armourer. On it Vechte has chased portraits of poets and scenes from their works including Ariosto (1474-1533), Tasso (1544-95), Dante (1265-1321) and Petrarch (1304-74). The quality of the workmanship is extraordinary.

The V&A bought the shield for £220 from Le Page Moutier of Paris at the 1851 Exhibition. Vechte's work was resisted by A.W.N. Pugin, the great champion of Christian Gothic, as 'pagan' although he acknowledged what was, 'in the abstract, an exceedingly clever piece of chasing'. Elkingtons made electrotype copies of the shield for the Department of Science and Art which sold for £4.15s.

Descriptive line

Embossed and chased steel shield, with a design of 'The Italian Poets', by Antoine Vechte (1799-1868), Paris or London, ca. 1851

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Edgcumbe, Richard in Simon Jervis ed. Art and Design in Europe and America, 1800-1900, London, The Herbert Press, 1987, ill. pp.78-9 ISBN 0906969751
Illustrated Catalogue of Electrotype Reproductions of Works of Art from Originals in the South Kensington Museum, London, 1873
Electrotype reproduction

Exhibition History

The Victoria and Albert Museum: Art and Design For All (Kunst und Ausstellungshalle der Bundesrepublik Deutschland, Bonn 18/11/2011-15/04/2012)
The Victoria and Albert Museum: Art and Design For All (Museum of Applied Arts, Budapest 14/06/2012-16/09/2012)
Art and Design in Europe and America, 1800-1900 (Victoria & Albert Museum 01/01/1987-31/12/2006)

Labels and date

THE ITALIAN POETS SHIELD
Antoine Vechte (1799-1868) designer and chaser,
LePage Moutier, (active 1842-1868), retailer,
Paris or London, about 1851
Steel embossed and chased

1482-1851

This shield, bought for £220 from Le Page Moutier of Paris at the London 1851 Exhibition, incorporates portraits of poets and scenes from their works: Ariosto (1474-1533) Ruggiero rescues Angelica (Orlando Furioso, X, 92-115); Tasso (1544-95), Carlo and Ubaldo in search of Rinaldo (Gerusalemme Liberata, XV, 55-66); Dante (1265-1321), the centaur Cacus attacked by snakes (Inferno, XXV, 16-24); Petrarch (1304-74), the poet laments the captive state of Italy (Rime CXXVIII, and letters to Emperor Charles IV). Vechte established his reputation in Paris, but worked in London from about 1849 to 1862. [1987-2006]

Associated Events

Great exhibition

Production Note

Embossed and chased with a design of 'The Italian Poets', by Vechte, retailed by Le Page Moutier, Paris or London, ca. 1851; Arms and Armour

Materials

Steel

Techniques

Chased; Embossed

Subjects depicted

Dante; Tasso, Torquato; Petrarch

Categories

Metalwork; Ceremonial objects; Arms & Armour; Great Exhibition

Collection code

MET

Download image
Qr_O102288
Ajax-loader