The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Sword
  • Sword
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Hilt- Italy; blade Germany, possibly
  • 1550 - 1610
    c. 1550 (hilt)
    c. 1610 (blade)
  • Steel, chased and engraved
  • Weight: 1.135 kg
    Length: 107.8 cm
    Length: 92.6 cm, blade
    Width: 4.1 cm, Blade at guard
    Balance point: 10.3 cm, forward of the guard block
  • Inscription: 'IHS' Marks around IHS
  • A600
  • European Armoury II
Commentary
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Sword, the swept hilt composed of a cone-shaped pommel chased with a grotesque head, plumed and moustached; wire-bound grip; horizontally recurved crossguard with bifurcated riband ends in the form of acanthus leaves; knuckle-guard, loop-guard from the cross to the hilt-arms, and the usual transverse bars on the inner side; the hilt is of bright steel, shaped and chased with medallions with rosettes supported by acanthus leaves at the centres of the guards; the broad blade of flat hexagonal section grooved at the forte and inscribed on each side:
    IHS
    Boccia and Coelho, Armi bianche, 1975, fig. 418; Norman and Barne, 1980, pp. 50,54, 118 and 221.

    Ornamented with medallions and leaves in relief, this fine Italian sword hilt is very similar in design to a number which appear in the contemporary design album of Filippo Orsoni (Mantua, dated 1554; Victoria and Albert Museum, inv. nos. E.1725-.2031-1929) and exhibits several of Orsoni’s key stylistic elements.These include the treatment of the ends of the crossguard, scrolled in opposite directions, and the vase-like pommel. Most characteristic however is the structure of the decoration on the side-rings and knuckle-bow. Many of the sword hilts conceived by Orsoni are made up of twisting vines, foliage, or other material, which support masks or medallions placed centrally on the side-rings, knuckle-bow, and sometimes also on the cross. In this case the hilt bars have been chiselled and filed to create the impression of simple circular medallions held in place on either side by splitting vines, worked below with the bearded masks of leafy green men or forest spirits. The same motifs are repeated on the pommel.

    Although the wide blade of this sword is later and not original to the hilt, it is not entirely out of place; many of the Orsoni album sword hilt designs show similarly broad cut-and- thrust blades.