Roundels commissioned by Thomas Wolsley and installed on the gatehouse walls of his Hampton Court Palace home have been found to be made of London clay following a research and restoration project.
The eleven terracotta roundels, made by Italian Giovanni da Maiano around 1520, have long been thought to depict Roman emperors. It was presumed that they were shipped from Italy but analysis has shown they are in fact made from good old London clay, indicating the little known Renaissance artist set up a London workshop.
The Guardian reports that rather than depicting Roman emperors, the roundels' subjects may be "military heroes and leaders including Scipio, Pompey, and a youthful Alexander the Great".
Four of the roundels which were deemed most at risk are about to be unveiled to the public again, although you'll have to be quick if you want to take a look as they'll soon be covered up again to protect them from the ravages of winter frost.
Hampton Court Palace is open daily 10am-6pm.
Image: Figure 1. Drawing of the Great Gate House and photo of the roundel representing Emperor Nero (Photography by Historic Royal Palaces)