Designed by Léonard Morel Ladeuil (French, 1820 - 1888) and made by Elkington & Company (Birmingham, UK) The Milton Shield won the prestigious Medal of Honor at the Paris Universal Exhibition of 1867 and was considered by many contemporaries to be the best work at the event, which featured more than 15,000 exhibitors and was seen by more than six million people.
The shield depicts the fourth and fifth books of John Milton's epic poem Paradise Lost (1667) and was made for the 200th anniversary of the work. The virtuosic repousse, low-relief, multi-figural sculptures of Adam and Even in the central panel, surrounded by several panels of the war between Lucifer and the hosts of heaven are reminiscent of Renaissance armor made for Emperor Charles V.
The shield was made using a then-revolutionary electroplating method that incorporated silver and gold over copper. This particular version of the Milton Shield is of extremely high quality, as evidenced by the careful hand chasing, extensive gold, and mounting on ebonized wood. Similar versions can be found in the collections of the Victoria & Albert Museum (London) and Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York).