The Wallace Collection

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Dagger with scabbard
  • Dagger with scabbard
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Italy
  • c. 1550
  • Steel, gold, wood and velvet, overlaid and blued
  • Length: 20.3 cm, blade
    Width: 2 cm, blade, at guard
    Weight: 0.21 kg, dagger
    Weight: 0.04 kg, scabbard
    Length: 30.9 cm
    Width: 7.7 cm, guard
  • A817
  • European Armoury III
Commentary
History
Further Reading
  • Dagger and scabbard, designed to evoke and complement the ‘puffed and slashed’ style of Renaissance dress. The hilt is comprised of a hollow pommel diagonally slashed; grip of baluster form also slashed in two of three sections; short guard consisting of knobs shaped and slashed like the pommel; oblong guard-block; the centre hilt of russeted steel overlaid in gold with leaves. The blade of flattened diamond section, the ricasso also overlaid with gold leaves.

    Scabbard of wood covered with green velvet, the locket and chape decorated with diagonal piercings and strawberry leaves overlaid like the hilt.
    Italian, about 1550.

    Asselineau, pl. 18; L' Art Ancien I, no. 26 (de Courval) ; Norman and Barne 1980, pp. 59 and 358-9; Lièvre, Musées et collections, 2 sér., pl. 4; Lièvre, Collections célèbres, pl. 13; Lièvre, Musée Graphique, pl. 12; De Beaumont Catalogue, nos. 92 and 105 and pl. 2.

    Exhibited: Musée Rétrospectif, 1865, no. 1909 (Nieuwerkerke).

    Provenance: Moreau, Vicomte de Courval (sold Paris, 17-18 April, 1860, lot 58, 325 fr.); Comte de Nieuwerkerke; Musée Rétrospectif, 1865.

    A sword with similar slashed and baluster hilt previously in the Hearst collection was bought for him at Fischer's, Lucerne, 7-8 May 1935, lot 7, repr. in cat. It later passed into the collection of Otto von Kienbusch (cat., no. 361, pl. C), and is now in the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

    King Philip II of Spain, in his portrait in civilian dress by Titian, painted about 1554, is wearing a sword and dagger with hilts of this type (Capodimonte, Galleria Nazionale, cat., no. 127). Very similar decoration of gold ivy leaves on steel appear on the hilt of an unknown man in a portrait by Gianbattista Moroni, of about 1555-9 (Metropolitan Museum, New York, no. 30.95.238). If one can believe Benvenuto Cellini, the use, in gold overlay as on A817, of ivy or bryony leaves, which are very similar in shape, as opposed to acanthus foliage, is an indication of Lombard work, as opposed to that of Tuscany or Rome (R. H. H. Cust, The Life of Benvenuto Cellini, I, 1927, pp. 112-13). This is confirmed by the similar leaves overlaid in gold on the hilt and ricasso of a rapier in the old Electoral Armoury at Dresden, which bears the marks of an unidentified Milanese swordsmith (Schöbel, 1975, pl. 85b).