tourney shield project got me looking and now I'm starting to see them pop up. The one to the left is German, dated about 1500 with a fabulous owl. The motto translates to "Although I am the hated bird, I rather enjoy that." How's that for a thumb your nose at 'em declaration!
There is something sort of whimsical about the entire piece to me and I can't nail down why. The quartered arms and image with the looping ribbon certainly are perfect for what imprese should be. Maybe it's just the expression on the owl's face. Or maybe it's just my personal biases. The shield itself is linen, leather, wood, gesso and paint.
another fabulous German one with similar materials from about fifty years earlier. It's motto is "Take me as I am." The face of the woman is really lovely.
I found a couple of other pageant shields in the Metropolitan's collection which were lovely art in and of themselves. The second one made me especially happy. It is 1580's Italian with a lovely gold color background and floral decoration. While it is not an imprese type shield, it is meant for display and the motifs on it made me feel like the maiolica inspired enthusiasm of my decoration might not be as out there as it seems.