• Knife
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • France
  • Date: 1730s
  • Medium: Gold and bloodstone
  • Length: 23 cm
  • Width: 2 cm
  • Inv: W202
  • Location: Smoking Room
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  • In 1857, Sir Richard Wallace was forced to sell his first collection of works of art because of financial difficulties and this cutlery set (W202-4) was included in that sale, where it was described as having belonged to Cardinal Mazarin (1642–1661), the Chief Minister to Louis XIV of France. It clearly had much appeal for Wallace, perhaps because of its association with Mazarin, and he bought it back in 1872 when it came onto the market, paying over five times as much for it.

    Mazarin had long since died when these pieces were made and so could not have been their owner, but it is just the kind of connection that dealers used to enhance the value of works of art.