Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object
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Sword Hilt

Designer:
Designed and modeled by Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse (French, Anizy-le-Château 1824–1887 Sèvres)
Goldsmith:
Executed by Lucien Falize (French, Paris, 1842–1897)
Date:
1881–82
Geography:
Paris
Culture:
French, Paris
Medium:
Bronze, gold
Dimensions:
H. 6 1/2 in. (16.5 cm); W. 5 3/16 in. (13.2 cm); D. 4 1/2 in. (11.4 cm); Wt. 1 lb. 12 oz. (799.5 g)
Classification:
Swords
Credit Line:
Purchase, Gift of William H. Riggs, by exchange, 1989
Accession Number:
1989.229
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 376
This exquisitely worked sword hilt was created for Gaston de Béarn, prince of Viana (1840–1893), who had a personal devotion to Our Lady of Lourdes. The Virgin Mary, surmounted by a crown of lilies, forms the grip and pommel. The guard has a dynamic composition composed of the Archangel Michael, symbol of Christianity and leader of the armies of heaven, vanquishing Satan, here a writhing dragon with a human face. The sword’s evocative sacred imagery is almost without parallel in the context of late nineteenth-century weapons.

The hilt was designed and modeled by the sculptor Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse and was executed by the goldsmith-jeweler Lucien Falize. It is a rare collaboration between two leading artists in Paris at the end of the nineteenth century.
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