The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Sword
  • Sword
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Blade- England
  • 1609 and 19th century
  • Iron or steel, etched, cast and gilt
  • Length: 75.3 cm
  • Inscription: 'HONIS SOIT QVY MAL Y PANSE 1609' with crowned arms of England and France within the Garter
  • A512
  • European Armoury I
Commentary
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Sword, a composition of a modern hilt and a genuine 17th-century blade, now disassembled. The broad double-edged blade tapers to a point and is boldly etched. On one side are the crowned and quartered arms of England and France within the Garter, inscribed:–

    HONIS (sic) SOIT QVY MAL Y PANSE 1609

    Beyond are two infant satyrs trumpets and a bearded satyr supporting on his head a basket of fruit and flowers. On the other side are a grotesque mask, two amorini supporting a trophy of arms, and below that again, a trophy of banners, a drum and helmet. All this decoration is positioned in reverse of the normal practice of decorating a sword-blade, which is typicaly intended to be read as though held upright in the hand. In this case the blade is read with its point positioned downwards. This reversal is found on other ceremonial swords of the 17th century.

    The date of the blade was previously read as 1509, but the second figure is actually a ‘6’, which corresponds to the style of the ornament. The drawing of the whole is in the manner of Rubens, and may well be from the hand of a Flemish artist. The arms are without the quarter of Scotland which was introduced with the accession of James I. This does not accord with the date, unless it is an instance of Stuart antiquarianism; see A717. The blade has probably been cut down from an English ceremonial sword of the early 17th century.

    The blade was previously mounted in a copy in gilt bronze of the hilt (once attributed to Donatello) on a sword in the Armeria Reale, at Turin (G. 79bis) which is illustrated by de Beaumont, in Fleurs des Belles Épées, and by Laking II, fig. 647.

    On each side of the blade is struck a small mark resembling in a general way those on A495. The hilt from which that of A512 is copied is now attributed to Andrea Briosco detto il Riccio of Padua, about 1510-20 (C. Bertolotto, ‘Medioevo e primo rinascimento’, in Mazzini, 1982, pp. 59-71, specifically pp. 67-70, pls. 16-22). Many other copies exist.