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.
Hans-Joachim Schramm, Cologne (until 1989; sold to MMA).
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Gods of War: Sacred Imagery and the Decoration of Arms and Armor," December 10, 1996–December 1997, no. 55.
London. Wartski. "Falize: A Dynasty of Jewelers," June 10–19, 1999, no. 152.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Philippe de Montebello Years: Curators Celebrate Three Decades of Acquisitions," October 24, 2008–February 1, 2009.
Compiègne, France. Musée National du Château de Compiègne. "Albert Carrier-Belleuse: le Maître de Rodin," May 22–October 27, 2014, no. 51.
Du Pasquier, Jacqueline. Le Duc De Bordeaux: [exposition Présentée Au] Musée Des Arts Décoratifs De La Ville De Bordeaux [puis Au] Musée Dobrée, Nantes [du 20 Juin Au 30 Novembre 1977]: Catalogue. Bordeaux: Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Bordeaux, 1977.
Schwennicke, Detlev, Wilhelm Karl Isenburg, and Frank Freytag von Loringhoven. Europäische Stammtafeln: Stammtafeln Zur Geschichte Der Europäischen Staaten 2 (1984). pl. 30 (Boubon line, ending with Henri Charles, Duke of Bordeaux, the purported recipient of this sword).
Mars & Merkur. Vertvoller Antiker Waffen, Seltener Militaria Und Bedeutender Historischer Sammlungsstüke. Offenbach: Mars & Merkur, October 14, 1988. no. 94.
Purcell, Katherine. "Catering to Every Taste." Apollo 133 (February 1991). pp. 95–98, n. 1.
La Rocca, Donald J. The Gods of War: Sacred Imagery and the Decoration of Arms and Armor. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1996. pp. 29–31, no. 55, pl. 21.
Purcell, Katherine. Falize: A Dynasty of Jewelers. London: Thames and Hudson, 1999. p. 105, no. 152, ill.
Hargrove, June, and Gilles Grandjean. Carrier-Belleuse: Le Maître De Rodin. Paris: Réunion des musées nationaux - Grand Palais, 2014. pp. 77, 185, no. 51.
Artist: Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse (French, Anizy-le-Château 1824–1887 Sèvres)Date: probably before 1868Medium: Cast terracotta with a coat of brown paint; original turned ebonized socleAccession: 1991.123On view in:Not on view
Artist: Possibly designed by Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse (French, Anizy-le-Château 1824–1887 Sèvres)Date: ca. 1883Medium: Lead- and tin-glazed earthenwareAccession: 1995.288.1a–cOn view in:Not on view