Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Rapier of Prince-Elector Christian II of Saxony (1583–1611)

Sword cutler:
Hilt by Israel Schuech (German, Dresden, active ca. 1590–1610)
Blade by Juan Martinez (Spanish, Toledo, active ca. 1600)
dated 1606
Dresden; Toledo
hilt, German, Dresden; blade, Spanish, Toledo
Steel, bronze, gold, enamel, paste jewels, cameos, pearls, wood
L. 48 in. (121.9 cm); L. of blade 41 1/4 in. (104.8 cm); W. 6 3/4 in. (17.2 cm); Wt. 3 lb. 4 oz. (1474 g)
Credit Line:
Fletcher Fund, 1970
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 376
This hilt is the only recorded work of the Dresden sword cutler Israel Schuech. It is one of the best examples of a rapier hilt made with the same materials, techniques, and quality as the fine sculpture, jewelry, and goldsmiths' work for which the Saxon Court was famous.
Signature: Signed on the hilt: ISRAEL SCHVECH M[achts or esserschmied?] 1606; on the reverse of the blade: IVAN MARTINEZ EN TOLEDO (Juan Martinez in Toledo); on the ricasso: ESPADERO DEL REY (swordsmith of the King).

Inscription: Inscribed on the obverse of the blade: IN TE DOMINE SPERAVI NON (from Psalm 70: In Thee, O Lord, have I put my trust...).

Marking: On the ricasso, the following Toledo marks: a crowned T repeated six times; a half moon repeated four times (and twice again at the end of blade grooves); a crowned fleur-de-lis repeated four times.
Christian II, Prince-Elector of Saxony (1606–d. 1611); by descent to the Prince-Electors, then Kings of Saxony (1611–1918); nationalized to the Historisches Museum, Dresden (1832–1970; inv. E.579; Highly important arms from the Dresden royal collection sale, Sotheby's, London, March 23, 1970, no. 34, sold to MMA).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Masterpieces of Fifty Centuries," November 14, 1970–February 14, 1971, no. 251.

Hettner, Hermann, and Gustav Hermann Büttner. Photographien nach Gegenständen aus dem Könlglichen Historischen Museum in Dresden. Munich: Franz Seraph Hanfstaengl, 1871. pl. 107.

Cronau, Rudolf. Geschichte der Solinger Klingenindustrie. Stuttgart: Gebrüder Kröner, 1885. p. 25, ill.

Boeheim, Wendelin. Handbuch der Waffenkunde: das Waffenwesen in Seiner Historischen Entwickelung vom Beginn des Mittelalters bis zum Ende des 18. Jahrhunderts. Leipzig: E. A. Seemann, 1890. pp. 283, 285, fig. 322.

Gurlitt, Cornelius, A. Diener von Schönberg, and James G. Mann. "Dresdener Waffenschmiede." Zeitschrift für Historische Waffenkunde I (1897). pp. 265–71.

Petzsch, Georg. "Othmar Wetter Messerschmied." Zeitschrift für Historische Waffenkunde 1 (1897). p. 91.

von Ehrenthal, M. Führer Durch das Königliche Historische Museum zu Dresden. 3rd ed. ed. Dresden: Wilhelm Baensch, 1899. pp. 97–98, no. E579.

Laking, Guy Francis, Charles A. de Cosson, and Francis Henry Cripps-Day. A Record of European Armour and Arms Through Seven Centuries. Vol. IV. London: G. Bell and Sons, 1921. p. 296, fig.1357.

von Seidlitz, Woldemar. Die Kunst in Dresden vom Mittelalter bis zur Neuzeit. Vol. 3. Dresden: Wilhelm und Berta von Baensch Stiftung, 1922. p. 414, no. 676.

Uhlemann, H. "Schuech." Allgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler von der Antike bis zur Gegenwart 30 (1936). p. 309.

Hayward, John F. "Studies on Othmar Wetter." Livrustkammaren V (1949). pp. 8–9, fig.4.

"Antique Sword Brings $49,400." New York Daily News (March 24, 1970).

Hayward, John F. "Arms from the Dresden Armory." Auction 3 (March 1970). pp. 48–51, fig.1.

Keen, Geraldine. "Saxon Prince Protests at Arms Sale." The Times [London, England] 57826 (March 24, 1970).

The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Kenneth Clark. Masterpieces of Fifty Centuries. New York: E. P. Dutton, 1970. p. 241, no. 251, ill.

Howat, John K., Berry B. Tracy, Vaughn E. Crawford, Helmut Nickel, Hilde Limondjian, Bradford Kelleher, Kate C. Lefferts, Adolph S. Cavallo, Jacob Bean, Harry S. Parker III, Henry G. Fischer, Claus Virch, Stuart Silver, Fong Chow, Dietrich von Bothmer, Richard Ettinghausen, Louise Condit, Elizabeth R. Usher, Florens Deuchler, Dorothy Weinberger, Emanuel Winternitz, John T. Conger, Margaret P. Nolan, Dudley T. Easby Jr., John J. McKendry, Leon Wilson, Jack Frizzelle, William D. Wilkinson, Marica Vilcek, Henry Geldzahler, and John Goldsmith Phillips. "Reports of the Departments." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 29, no. 2 (October 1970). p. 64, ill.

Sotheby's, London. Highly Important Arms from the Saxon Royal Collections. London: Sotheby's, London, March 23, 1970. pp. 36–38, no. 34, ill.

Hayward, John F., and Sotheby's, New York. "Israel Schuech's Rapier." In Art at Auction, 1969–1970. New York: Sotheby's, New York, 1970. pp. 390–93, ill.

Nickel, Helmut. Ullstein-Waffenbuch: Eine Kulturhistorische Waffenkunde Mit Markenverzeichnis. Berlin: Ullstein, 1974. p. 172, ill.

Nickel, Helmut. "Arms and Armor." In The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Notable Acquisitions, 1965–1975. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1975. p. 43, ill.

Norman, A. V. B., and C. M. Barne. The Rapier and Small-Sword, 1460–1820. London: Arms and Armour Press, 1980. pp. 7, 38, 86, 90, 232, 333.

Nickel, Helmut. "Arms and Armor from the Permanent Collection." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 49, no. 1 (Summer 1991). pp. 38–39, 64, ill.

Haedeke, Hanns-Ulrich. Menschen und Klingen: Geschichte und Geschichten. Solingen, Germany: MARTOR, 1994. pp. 100–102, fig. 49.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Thomas P. Campbell. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2012. p. 164, ill.

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