The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Serving knife
  • Serving knife
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • France
  • before 1429
  • Iron or steel, horn, enamel and gold, enamelled and gilded
  • Length: 13 cm, handle
    Length: 30.4 cm, blade
    Width: 0.6 cm, maximum
    Weight: 0.155 kg
  • Maker's mark: Cutler's mark
  • A880
  • European Armoury I
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Serving knife, of horn, mounted in gilt and enamelled metal. On either side of the pommel is a coat of arms in translucent enamel; azure, three keys or, differenced with a label or, probably those of Nicolas Rolin, Chancellor of Burgundy under Philip the Good from 1422 until his death in 1462. The arms are repeated on the collar round the forward end of the grip; the ground on both pommel and collar and an oblong strip inlaid on either side of the grip is gilt, decorated with flowers in red, blue and green enamel.

    The broad blade has a curved edge and straight back inclined at the point; it bears a cutler's mark on one side.

    In shape and workmanship this knife resembles A881. It bears no motto. This and the following are examples of the knives used in pairs by the esquire-carvers with which to cut the food and serve it to their masters.

    French, before 1429 (?)

    Bailey, Knives and Forks, 1927, fig. 1 (3).

    Provenance: Philippe Vaillant de Meixmoron sale, Contet, Dijon, 27 April-7 May 1868, lot 985, 3,150fr., Carrand (marked catalogue in the Metropolitan Museum, New York). De Mèixmoron of Dijon; Louis Carrand (Un superbe couteau à trancher gothique, dont le manche garni d' argent émaille et doré, est aux armes du Cancelier Rollin, 4,000 fr.; receipted bill, 1 June, 1868); Comte de Nieuwerkerke. Offered by the Count to the South Kensington Museum in 1870, for purchase at 100. Receipt dated 7 October, and marked in pencil: £100; 2,500 fr.

    According to the late Mr. A. Van de Put these arms are those of either:

    (1) Nicolas Rolin before 1429; or of

    (2) Guillaume Rolin (his eldest son and successor), used by him after 1429
    and before the death of his father in 1462. Nicolas Rolin (1376-1492 and before the death of his father in 1462. Nicolas Rolin (1376-1462) was Chancellor of Burgundy and Brabant in 1422, and may have carried these arms during the lifetime of his elder brother, Jean who died in 1429. From then, until his death in 1462, the Chancellor was chef de nom et d'armes of his family, and these arms cannot possibly refer to him between those dates.
    This famous picture, Vierge au Donateur, in the Louvre by Jan van Eyck (no. 1986) is believed to give the portrait of Nicolas Rolin as donor; and he is again depicted, with his wife, on the triptych by Rogier van der Weyden, in the Hospital of St. John at Beaune. The Chancellor's arms upon this picture (anno 1446) are naturally without any brisure or label, which might characterize the insignia of an elder son, or of a collateral branch of the family.