The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Sword
  • Sword
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Italy
  • c. 1540 - 1550
    c. 1540 - 1550 (hilt (Italian))
  • Steel, chiselled
  • Length: 112.4 cm
    Length: 98.8 cm, blade
    Width: 2.8 cm, blade at the top of the ricasso
    Width: 17.6 cm, guard
    Balance point: 14.2 cm, forward of the guard block
  • Maker's mark
  • A550
  • European Armoury II
Commentary
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Sword, the hilt of bright steel and made up of a pear-shaped pommel, vertically relieved with seven raised and fluted or roped ribs; fluted, wire-bound grip; short, straight crossguard, square in section, thickening at the ends; knuckle-guards, side-rings, hilt-arms, and plain transverse guard at the back, all square in section, the edges chiselled with rope pattern; long double-edged blade of hexagonal section, the outer faces slightly hollowed, plain ricasso; traces of the maker's mark remain.

    Norman and Barne, 1980, pp. 220, 261-2 and 368.

    A sword of like workmanship was lot 109 at Gerard Lee Bevan sale (Puttick and Simpson, 20 July, 1923).

    Without knowing the context of its original use, it is not possible to be entirely sure whether this fine weapon should be called a rapier or not. Its cut-and-thrust blade would be perfectly serviceable for military use, while at the same time it could also have been found in action in a civilian duel. The developed hilt, comprised of two side-rings, hilt arms, knuckle-bow and a single counterguard in addition to the straight cross, is also of a type found in both civilian and military portraits of the time. Swords of this type, paired with a buckler, target or dagger, were employed by swordsmen of Marozzo’s Bolognese School of swordsmanship, which, although it included new innovations such as the parrying dagger, was, in its essence, following the older medieval martial tradition, which also included the use of staff weapons and the two-handed sword.

    The simple but elegant decoration of the hilt of this sword seems to be following civilian fashion of the time. This is especially apparent in the form of the pommel, which may have been intended to complement the ‘puffed and slashed’ clothing style and which is most typical of weapons dating from c. 1530-50