The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Sword
  • Sword
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Italy
  • c. 1490 - 1520
  • Steel, gold, bronze and horn
  • Length: 104.5 cm
    Length: 88.5 cm, blade
    Width: 3.4 cm, blade width at guard
    Width: 19.8 cm, guard
    Balance point: 12.2 cm, forward of the guard block
  • A499
  • European Armoury I
Commentary
History
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Civilian side-sword, the hilt of gilt-bronze, having a cap-shaped pommel of eight planes, displaying six vertical panels containing Classical figures in low relief, one having been pierced at a later date for a cord or tassel; octagonal grip of horn; horizontally recurved crossguard of gilt bronze, spirally twisted and decorated at the centre on either side with a small panel , each containing a classical female head in profile; narrow and tapered double-edged blade of diamond section with hollowed bevels.

    A weapon with a like hilt but shorter blade is represented in Dürer's famous plate Der Spaziergang, which was published about 1495; another is shown in the picture Judith, a late work by Vincenzo Catena (d. 1531)in the Galleria Querini Stampalia, Venice.

    O. Gamber suggested that the grip was probably originally inlaid with longitudinal decorative strips (personal communication, 1978). The decoration of the pommel-cap links it with some cinquedeas (see Boccia and Coelho, 1975, fig. 179, where it is dated about 1480-1500, and compare fig. 224a, the cap of a cinquedea in the Museo Civico at Bologna, no. MG335). Illustrated by Vollon in his Curiosités of 1868 (Savill, 1980).

    This sword appears to have been disassembled in the 19th century. Under X-ray it is clear that the tang has at some point been lengthened by means of reforging, to allow the end of the tang to be re-hammered over the pommel button, which is itself a modern addition required for reassembly (since the reforged tang would have been too narrow for the original hole in the pommel itself). Nevertheless all parts of the sword, blade and all hilt parts apart from the button, appear to be original.