Since the early Bronze Age the sword has been a sign of wealth, status and the power of divine right. Yet, before the sixteenth century the sword was almost never carried on the person in everyday life. It was a rare, noble weapon, carried into battle by the aristocratic warrior class but set aside in time of peace. However, the increasing prominence of the Renaissance middle classes brought a fundamental change to the sword's place in society. Now large numbers of non-noble but often wealthy and upwardly mobile people could also afford rich things like fine clothes, jewelry and weapons.
Accompanying a major international exhibition at the Wallace Collection, London (17 May – 16 September 2012), this catalogue celebrates this artistic and cultural importance of the sword, as a symbol of power and prestige, as a flamboyant fashion statement and as an icon in the Age of Discovery. It will feature weapons and related works of art from the Wallace Collection as well as other great collections of arms and armour; never-before-seen works on fencing drawn from the library of the 8th Lord Howard de Walden; and portraits, prints and drawings that will help place the Renaissance civilian sword in its social and artistic context. It will also help explore the ancient origins since the first Olympiad of the modern era of 1896, revealing a place in history where art and sport converged.
Author(s): Tobias Capwell et al.
Publisher: The Wallace Collection
Publication date: 2012
264 pages, 300 x 245 mm,
Illustrations: 150 colour illus.
ISBN: 978 0 900785 43 6