The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Rapier
  • Rapier
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Hilt- North Europe; blade- possibly German
  • c. 1650
  • Steel, embossed, chiselled and blackened
  • Length: 139.7 cm
    Length: 123 cm, blade
    Width: 2.4 cm
    Weight: 1.615 kg
  • Inscription: 'CHRISTVS · IMPERAT'
    Incised mark: Orb and cross
    Incised mark: Grotesque mask
  • A668
  • European Armoury III
Commentary
History
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Rapier, the hilt made up of a heavy pommel and button, of pear-shaped form chiselled in relief with heavy roping en torsade, and upright scrolls; spirally fluted, wire-bound grip; straight quillons of diamond section, ending in knobs en suite with the pommel; knuckle guard and double ring of diamond section with similar knobs at the centres, the surface decorated with incised lines and wavy lines chiselled in relief; shallow saucer-like cup, embossed with nude figures, grotesque and scrolls; the whole of blackened steel. Long blade of hexagonal section, the single groove at the forte inscribed:

    CHRISTVS · IMPERAT

    and incised with the orb and cross; strong ricasso covered by a prolonged escutcheon bearing a grotesque mask in low relief.

    About 1650; hilt North European; blade possibly German.

    Norman and Barne, 1980, pp. 170, 270 and 375, pI. 87. De Beaumont Catalogue, no. 57, with the following note:

    'Cette légende, Christus imperat, semble avoir été particulièrement employée comme devise de lame d' épée par un fourbisseur du XVIIe siècle, nommé Marson. Ce nom signé assez fréquemment des lames toutes semblables à celle dont il s' agit, et qui portent comme elle la même devise et les mêmes filets.'

    Blades bearing the name of Marson are at Turin (G64), Musée de l' Armée, Paris (J249), Museo Stibbert, Florence (2084), in Pauilhac Collection, Paris, at Eastnor Castle, and elsewhere. Some carry a version of the Toledo mark. The name MARSOV is on the blade of the sword used by Gustavus Adolphus at the battle of Lützen and CENEDA MARSOV is on a blade in the Deutsches Historisches Museum in Berlin. Ceneda is a part of the town of Vitttorio Veneto in northern Italy; there is a village called Marsov in Bohemia, and one called Marson in France. In the case of A668 the mark of the orb and the cross suggests a German origin of the blade.

    Provenance: Comte de Nieuwerkerke.

    A closely comparable hilt is depicted in St. Louis as a crusader by Philip Fruytiers, about 1652 (Antwerp, Musée Royal des Beaux-Arts, cat. no.166).