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Small-Sword, result 1 of 1

Item Details
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Switzerland, Geneva(?) (blade: Germany, Solingen, early 18th c.), late 18th Century
Work Type
Arms and Armor
c. 1790-1800
hilt: gold with blue translucent enamel; blade: etched, blued and gilded steel
Overall: 97 cm (38 3/16 in.); Blade: 81 cm (31 7/8 in.); Hilt: 16.5 cm (6 1/2 in.)
This example shows the small-sword at its latest and most refined stage of development. Though highly reflective of French taste, it was probably fashioned in a Swiss workshop under French influence or by a French craftsman working in Switzerland. Worn publicly as an emblem of social rank, this sword was likely custom-made for an affluent individual to use on formal or court occasions.
So-called because of its short blade, the small-sword emerged as the light and quick weapon of choice for aristocratic civilians during the 1700s. Such a sword was traditionally suspended at about mid-thigh from the left side of a belt, the hilt exposed through the opening of the gentleman's coat. Highly visible, the hilt invited lavish decoration through precious materials such as gold and enamels, as seen here. Considered a type of masculine jewelry at that time, small-swords featured a variety of hilt styles that went in and out of fashion. Many were decorated to match personal costume, and jewelers worked on the finest small-swords of the day.
Cleveland, Ohio, USA
Collection: MED - Arms & Armor
Department: Medieval Art
Gallery: 210A Armor Court
Provenance: Marshall M. Fredericks Coll.; Peter Finer, Warwickshire
Purchase from the J. H. Wade Fund
Accession Number
Image and original data from The Cleveland Museum of Art
Use of this image is in accordance with the Artstor Terms & Conditions
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