The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
  • Rapier
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Germany or Italy
  • c. 1610
  • Iron or steel and gold, chiselled and gilded
  • Length: 100 cm, blade
    Width: 2.8 cm, blade above the ricasso
    Weight: 1.11 kg
    Length: 117.4 cm
    Width: 22.4 cm, forward of the guard block
    Balance point: 11.5 cm, forward of the guard block
  • Incised mark: Patriarchal Cross
    Incised mark: 'HHHH' Four times
  • A589
  • European Armoury II
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Rapier, the hilt composed of a pommel of flattened cylindrical form, with tang-button; oval wire-bound grip (modern); straight guard, one arm repaired; knuckle-guard with a loop connecting to the hilt arms; small shell-guards. Blade of flattened hexagonal section, doubly grooved and widely pierced, with a strong ricasso, punched in dots with a patriarchal cross; the grooves are marked with the letter H four times. The entire hilt has been elaborately chiselled with nude figures in high relief on a gilt ground with bands of Renaissance ornament; on the shell-guard in front is the half figure of God Almighty, the other subjects represented include the Fall and Regeneration of Man, and saints. The background of the chiselling on the guards bears considerable traces of fire-gliding. The equestrian figures which form a prominent feature of the decoration of the pommel are absent on the guards suggesting that the two parts are associated.

    German or Italian, about 1610.

    Norman and Barne, 1980, pp. 130 and 371 (2).

    A hilt apparently decorated in the same workshop is said to have been found in the River Sihl near Zurich (Schweizerisches Landesmuseum Zurich inv. no. AG2476). Others are in the Metropolitan Museum, New York (no. 1973.27.3; exhibited The Art of Chivalry, 1982, no. 52) in a private house in Yorkshire; in the Harding collection in the Art Institute of Chicago (no. 2097); while another example in the old Electoral Armoury at Dresden is apparently listed in the 1606 Inventory (inv. no. 398; Schöbel, 1975, pI. 98b). The last three are decorated with scenes from the Passion of Our Lord. J. F. Hayward tentatively attributed to Italy a comparably decorated hilt in the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum, Munich (no. W586; Livrustkammaren, V, 1949, pp. 1-29, fig. 9); but the compilers of the Catalogue of the Metropolitan Museum's exhibition, cited above, attributed this group of hilts to Germany, pointing out the similarity of the incised decoration on the inner guards of their hilt to that on a number of hilts still at Dresden and particularly one which has been attributed to the Messerschmied Othmar Wetter working in Dresden (1899 cat., no. E288; Haenel, 1923, pI. 56 f). This type of incised decoration is discussed under no. A808.