Skip to Main Content

Small-Sword

c. 1790–1800
Overall: 97 cm (38 3/16 in.); Blade: 81 cm (31 7/8 in.); Hilt: 16.5 cm (6 1/2 in.)
Weight: 430 g (15.17 oz.)
You can copy, modify, and distribute this work, all without asking permission. Learn more about CMA's Open Access Initiative.

Download, Print and Share

Description

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.
Small-Sword

Small-Sword

c. 1790–1800

Switzerland, Geneva(?) (blade: Germany, Solingen, early 18th c.), late 18th Century

Visually Similar Artworks

Contact us

The information about this object, including provenance, may not be currently accurate. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email collectionsdata@clevelandart.org.

To request more information about this object, study images, or bibliography, contact the Ingalls Library Reference Desk.

All images and data available through Open Access can be downloaded for free. For images not available through Open Access, a detail image, or any image with a color bar, request a digital file from Image Services.