Renaissance Shield is returning to Europe with life after the World Wars

The Philadelphia Museum of Art said Monday it would return a formal pageant shield to the Czech Republic after scholars determined it was part of a collection that once belonged Archduke Franz Ferdinand and which was later confiscated by the Nazis after the occupation of Czechoslovakia during World War II.

It would be the latest iteration for a shield that was made by an Italian artist during the Renaissance, and which survived the wars centuries later, unusually. It eventually ended up in a bequest to the Philadelphia Museum, where it went on display in the Gallery of Arms and Armor in 1976 as part of the Carl Otto Kretzsmar von Keinbusch collection.

Officials said in a news release that the museum had been working with historians in the Czech Republic since 2016 to evaluate the history and emergence of the shield.

Nadezhda Gorizkova, head of the National Heritage Institute of the Czech Republic, said in a statement: “After several decades, a remarkable piece of Italian Renaissance art, historically belonging to the d’Este collection of Konopist Castle, has returned to the Czech Republic. ” . “We’re very happy.” The agreement to return the artifacts was made jointly by the museum and the National Heritage Institute, which have promised to consider any future loan requests for the shield from the museum.

In Philadelphia, Timothy Raab, the museum’s director and chief executive, said in a statement Monday, “A work lost during the turmoil of World War II is being happily restored, and is one of an extraordinary scholarly partnership.” I have come.”

Experts say that the shield, which is attributed to the artist Girolamo di Tommaso da Treviso, was probably one of the many ceremonies held throughout Italy to welcome the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V home from military campaigns in North Africa in the 1500s. One was commissioned for. The shield circa 1535 was made of wood, linen, gesso, gold and pigment and was 24 inches in diameter. The scene depicted on the surface of the disc shows the storming of New Carthage (now in Spain) by Roman soldiers, he said. That motif of an ancient military victory can be seen as a parallel to the conquest of Charles V.

Historians determined that the shield was once Archduke Franz Ferdinand, the presumed successor of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, whose Assassination by a Serbian nationalist in 1914 set off first world war.

The Archduke had an impressive collection of weapons and armor, which he displayed at his country residence, Konopiste Castle, near Prague. After World War I, the palace and its collections became the property of the newly formed government of Czechoslovakia. But by 1939, Germany had occupied the area that contained the Konopist, and four years later, the Nazis confiscated the palace’s armor collection, the curator said.

The museum said in a statement that Leopold Ruprecht, who was Hitler’s arms and armor curator, eventually collected the best pieces in the collection and shipped them to Vienna, intending to build a museum in Linz, Austria. Huh. When the artifacts were returned to Czechoslovakia after World War II, there were 15 items missing.

One of them was this elaborately decorated shield, built around 1535 for ceremonial purposes. Museum officials said the shield was identified through a pre-World War II art catalog and a photograph from around 1913, in which it was displayed at Konopist Castle.

The shield is one of several artifacts confiscated by the Nazis. The origin of some fragments, many of which were taken from Jewish families, remains a matter of dispute today, such as the heir has demanded retrieve item from museums or private collectors. In some cases those efforts have resulted in lawsuits Works that are said to be worth millions of dollars.

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