Shield of arms with knight supporters

Panel
ca. 1480 (made), late 19th century (restored)
Shield of arms with knight supporters thumbnail 1
Shield of arms with knight supporters thumbnail 2
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Sacred Silver & Stained Glass, Room 84, The Whiteley Galleries
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

In the early 19th century this roundel was seen in Gelnhausen Cathedral in the western part of Germany. We do not know if it came from there originally. No one has identified the coat of arms, which makes it difficult to assign it to a particular family estate or city.

The arms are described in heraldic terms as: Or, a double-headed eagle displayed sable; with an escutcheon of pretence, argent, a cross argent (on a gold ground, a black double-headed eagle with wings outspread; on the breast of the eagle a small shield with a white cross on a white ground).

Two knights support the arms. One holds a white banner with a white cross on it, repeating what is depicted in the escutcheon (small heraldic shield).

The roundel may come from the Deutschordenshaus (‘house of the Teutonic Knights’) in the city of Gelnhausen. The Teutonic Order was founded as a hospital in the Holy Land, similar to the orders of the Templars and the Hospitallers. Its members devoted themselves to serving German pilgrims and Crusaders.

If this roundel does depict the arms of a member of the Teutonic Order, then it is possible that it was originally in a window in a meeting room or hall of the Deutschordenshaus.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Clear, coloured and flashed glass with painted details and yellow (silver) stain
Brief Description
Roundel of clear, coloured and flashed glass with painted details and yellow (silver) stain. Depicting an unknown coat of arms. German (Middle Rhine), ca.1480.
Physical Description
Roundel of stained glass. This superbly drawn roundel shows two knights flanking a gold shield with the imperial emblem of double-headed eagle in black with a small escutcheon of pretence with a white cross on a white ground. The young knight on the left holds a banner, similarly decorated with a cross, and that on the right, with helm, holds a sword in his left hand. They stand before a diaper ground, scratched through a thin coat of dark enamel on ruby glass, the bottom third of which was restored, probably in the late nineteenth century.
Dimensions
  • Height: 39.5cm
Gallery Label
SHIELD OF ARMS WITH KNIGHT SUPPORTERS Two knights flank a shield with the imperial emblem of a double-headed eagle, on the chest of which is a small 'escutcheon of pretence' with cross. The roundel was recorded in the first half of the 19th century in Gelnhausen, east of Frankfurt, and because of the arms it is probable that it came from the house of the Order of the Teutonic Knights there. It probably decorated a window in a meeting room or hall. Germany (Middle Rhine), about 1480; associated with the Housebook Master Museum no. C.289-1938((PW) 2003)
Credit line
Purchased with the assistance of the Murray Bequest
Object history
Said to have come from the cathedral of Gelnhausen in Hessen (Schmitz, 1913). Then it passed into the collection in the Castle Mainberg at Schweinfurt until 1901. Then in the possession of Herr von Hollitscher in Berlin and then Noll in Frnakfurt until 1931. From there it passed into the collection of William Randolph Hearst. The museum bought it from the dealer Wilfrid Drake.
Historical context
A 1913 publication records that this roundel was in the Cathedral of Gelnhausen in the German state of Hessen in the first half of the nineteenth century. We don't know if it was in the cathedral since it was made in the late 15th century. The arms have not been identified and it can't be ruled out that they are fanciful and so do not belong to any particular family.



The arms are described in heraldic terms as:

Or, a double-headed eagle displayed sable; with an escutcheon of pretence, argent, a cross argent

(on a gold ground, a black double-headed eagle with wings outspread; on the breast of the eagle a small shield with a white cross on a white ground).



The arms are supported by two knights, one of which is holding a white banner with a white cross on it, repeating what is depicted in the escutcheon.



No family has been identifed yet that bore these arms. The heraldry is puzzling as the 'rules' forbade the placing of a colour upon the same colour. The escutcheon and the banner are therefore incorrect according to the rules of heraldry.



Nevertheless, it has been suggested that the roundel possibly came from the Deutschordenshaus (house of the Teutonic Knights) in the city of Gelnhausen.
Production
Made in Upper or Middle Rhine.
Subjects depicted
Summary
In the early 19th century this roundel was seen in Gelnhausen Cathedral in the western part of Germany. We do not know if it came from there originally. No one has identified the coat of arms, which makes it difficult to assign it to a particular family estate or city.



The arms are described in heraldic terms as: Or, a double-headed eagle displayed sable; with an escutcheon of pretence, argent, a cross argent (on a gold ground, a black double-headed eagle with wings outspread; on the breast of the eagle a small shield with a white cross on a white ground).



Two knights support the arms. One holds a white banner with a white cross on it, repeating what is depicted in the escutcheon (small heraldic shield).



The roundel may come from the Deutschordenshaus (‘house of the Teutonic Knights’) in the city of Gelnhausen. The Teutonic Order was founded as a hospital in the Holy Land, similar to the orders of the Templars and the Hospitallers. Its members devoted themselves to serving German pilgrims and Crusaders.



If this roundel does depict the arms of a member of the Teutonic Order, then it is possible that it was originally in a window in a meeting room or hall of the Deutschordenshaus.
Bibliographic References
  • Williamson, Paul. Medieval and Renaissance Stained Glass in the Victoria and Albert Museum. London, 2003. ISBN 1851774041
  • H. Schmitz, Die Glasgemalde des koniglichen Kinstgewerbemuseums in Berlin. Mit einer Einfuhrung in die Geschichte der deutschen Glasmalerei, Berlin, 1913.
  • R. Becksmann, 'Das "Hausbuchmeister-problem" in der mittelrheinischen Glasmalerei', Pantheon, vol.26 (1968)
  • D. Hess, Die mittelalterlichen Glasmalerein in Frankfurt und im Rhein-Main-Gebiet, CVMA, Germany, vol.3/2 (Berlin, 1999)
Collection
Accession Number
C.289-1938

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record createdNovember 18, 2003
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