The Wallace Collection

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Processional glaive
  • Processional glaive
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Italy
  • c. 1640
  • Iron or steel, velvet and wool, engraved
  • Length: 94 cm, including socket
    Length: 29 cm, strap
    Weight: 4.42 kg
  • A947
  • European Armoury II
Commentary
History
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Processional glaive, having a very large head with the top broadening and curving backwards; the back-edge has a large, branched projection shaped with lions ridden by cupids on either side, and between them five rays incised with foliage enclosing a boy struggling with a monster. Higher up is a smaller projection of three leaves; octagonal socket and two short side-straps. The blade is crudely engraved with figures, animals and trophies, and on each side is a cartouche containing the Imperial eagle, but on one side, superimposed upon it, are the quartered arms (1-4, obliterated, but possibly a bird of some kind: a phoenix or eagle displayed; 2-3, barry of six (Venier?)). Meyrick's ascription of these arms to the Doge Francesco 'Veneri' (who held office from 1554 to 1556) would appear to be based upon the circumstance that one branch of that family bore: 1-4, a phoenix in flames; 2-3, barry of six (Venier). But the Doge in question was apparently not a member of this branch of the house; as in quarters 2-3. Modern staff covered with faded and patched crimson cut velvet and furnished with a large tassel of crimson wool. Compare the companion glaive, A948 and A945, which bears another variety of the Venier arms.

    North Italian, about 1640.

    See Skelton II, pl. LXXXV, fig. 6.

    Meyrick states that this glaive was:

    'One of eight in this Collection made for the Guard of the Doge of Venice during the time that the Emperor Charles V had the command there, in compliment to whom the central ornament on the blade is the Austrian Eagle. Upon this the arms of the succeeding Doge, Francisco Veneri, who held the office from 1554 to 1556, have been deeply incised, no doubt to commemorate the expulsion of the Germans'.

    The poor quality of this glaive and its indifferent engraving suggest that it belongs more probably to the first half of the 17th century than to the 16th.
    Two of the eight glaives referred to by Meyrick are in this Collection (A947-8), and two others were in the Leonard Brassey sale, Christie's, 21 February, 1922, lots 90 and 96. Meyrick Catalogue, nos. 462-3, 469-70, 474-5.

    Provenance: Sir S. R. Meyrick; Frédéric Spitzer.

    The original arms were not those of the Emperor, as stated in the 1962 Catalogue, but a double-headed eagle charged on its breast with an oval shield bearing an anulet, between the heads an open crown. These arms were borne by one branch of the Barbaro family of Venice (the field and oval shield argent, the eagle sable, the anulet gules). The later, superimposed arms are quarterly 1 and 4, a pelican in its piety; 2 and 3, barry of six; arms borne by one branch of the Venier family of Venice.