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Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Design for a Smallsword Hilt

ca. 1780
Pen, ink, colored wash, chalk, paper
9 x 7 in. (23 x 17.8 cm)
Works on Paper-Drawings
Credit Line:
Gift of John Blair, in memory of his father, Claude Blair, 2011
Accession Number:
Not on view
This rare drawing gives us a glimpse of how an elegant sword hilt was custom designed for an individual client. On the left, the proposed hilt is seen in profile; on the right, its shell guard is shown from above. The notation on the lower right says: "The border and its design appear a little weak to me, but pay no heed to my opinion if it is not to your taste." The grammatically incorrect nature of the French indicates that the writer was someone with little formal education, perhaps the craftsman who was making the hilt or the merchant selling it.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Arms and Armor: Notable Acquisitions 2003–2014," November 11, 2014–December 6, 2015.

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