The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
  • Partizan
  • Attributed to Jean Berain I (1640 - 1711)
  • France
  • c. 1670 - c. 1680
  • Steel, gold and velvet, etched, chiselled and gilded
  • Length: 53.2 cm, blade
    Length: 7.3 cm, straps
    Weight: 1.92 kg
  • Inscription: 'NEC PLVRIBVS IM·PAR'
  • A1009
  • European Armoury II
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Processional partizan, with a broad head, strongly ridged at the point, the remainder pierced and chiselled. In the centre, against a column, is a figure of Hercules in low relief, above is the head of Apollo surrounded by sun-rays, and encircled with the motto:


    which was adopted by King Louis XIV in 1663; the column surmounted by a pierced fleur-de-lys; on either side are flying Cupids with trumpets; beneath, the head and paws of a lion's skin with captives seated on either side, one in Roman armour, the other nude and holding a dog; set among eagles' heads, trophies of flags, palm branches and laurel leaves; the whole is skillfully modeled, the ground slightly etched and gilt. One of the wings has been broken and restored: steel socket with two short straps (broken). The socket is pierced for the short bar common to such partizans, but this no longer remains; neither does the pyramidal-headed bolt reproduced by Skelton. The staff of octagonal section is covered with old yellow velvet.

    This partizan probably belonged to an officer of the Gardes de la Manche of Louis XIV, so-called because they were always at the side of the king, against his sleeve. The decoration (which is the same on both sides) was stated by Meyrick to be "so completely in the style of Lepautre that the design must be attributed to him". No drawing by either Jean or Antoine exists to confirm this, but one of the compositions of Jean Lepautre represents the reception of the Turkish Ambassador by Louis XIV in December, 1709, the Gardes de la Manche being armed with like partizans to no. A1009.

    French, about 1670-80.

    Skelton II, pl. LXXXIX; Laking, European Armour IV, fig. 1414.

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

    Compare the partizan A1008. The John Beardmore collection at Uplands contained a partizan closely resembling A1009 (no. 223, pl. 13). In the Royal Armouries is a partizan of brass which also closely resembles no. A1009 in decoration (inv. no. VII. 219). It is described in the Inventory of 1676 as ‘English Rich Partizan’. In the same collection are two other partizans with the sun in splendour and the same motto, but differing greatly in decoration (VII. 231-2). Another example, apparently closely resembling A1009, is in the Armeria Reale, Turin, (J 179). Others are to be found in the Musée de l'Armée and the church of Marly-le-Roi, near Versailles.

    The medal struck by Jean Mauger "to the glory of Louis XIV" is dated 1663, but may have been produced much later. The obverse bears the head of Louis, the reverse shows the sun shining upon the world, with the motto: Nec Pluribus Impar and the date MDCLXIII. (Forrer, Dictionary of Medallists III, 618; Mieris, Hist. Métallique des Pays-Bas, II, 531, 1732).

    Baron de Cosson quotes the following reference to the Gardes de la Manche by Le Sieur de Montigny (Uniformes militaires, Paris, 1773): Uniforme pareil à celui des Gardes-du-Roy et par dessus une cotte d'armes fond blanc semée de fleurs de lis d'or avec la devise du Roy, surbrodée en plein d'or et d'argent avec la pertuisane à lame dorée et la main frangée de soie blanche et argent. Les Gardes-de-la-Manche sont au nombre de 24, ils sont tirés du Corps-des-Gardes du Roy (de Cosson, Dino Cat., p. 86).

    This piece is probably no. 16 of the staff weapons in the list of armour and weapons acquired by Meyrick from D. Colnaghi about 1818, now in the Library of the Royal Armouries. Another example is in the Kienbusch collection, now in the Philadelphia Museum of Art (cat., no. 602, pI. CXXX). What was almost certainly a partizan of this type was lot 67 in the sale of the collection of M. le duc d'lstrie, Paris, Bonnefons de Lavialle, 24-25 January 1839. It is very unlikely that the similar partizan in the Royal Armouries (VII.219) would have been identified as English in 1676, as suggested by C. ffoulkes.
    It is possible that the design of A1009 is by Jean Berain I (1640-1711?), rather than by either Jean or Pierre Le Pautre. The design by Berain for another pattern of elaborately decorated partizan of the Gardes de la Manche was published in the Mercure Galant of October 1679, IIe partie, p. 215. It had been prepared for the celebration of the marriage of Marie-Louise d'Orleans. A surviving example is in the Musée de 1'Armee, Paris (no. K.496; Mariaux, 1927, pI. LXVI). C. Aries, in a letter of August 1976, suggested that this exceptionally elaborate type of partizan might be connected with the final installation of Louis XIV at Versailles, that is to say about 1680.

    For a note on the Gardes de la Manche see no. A1005.