Sword Hilt, Designed and modeled by Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse (French, Anizy-le-Château 1824–1887 Sèvres), Bronze, gold, French, Paris

Sword Hilt

Designed and modeled by Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse (French, Anizy-le-Château 1824–1887 Sèvres)
Executed by Lucien Falize (French, Paris, 1842–1897)
French, Paris
Bronze, gold
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)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Gift of William H. Riggs, by exchange, 1989
Accession Number:
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.
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 (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 (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.