• A prestigious volume looking at the swords, helmets, pistols, daggers and more from this remarkable collection, spanning over a thousand years of history
The collection of arms and armour at the Wallace Collection is widely recognised as being one of the largest and most important in the UK. Consisting of around 2,500 objects, it represents both European and Oriental arms and armour. The European part of the collection was acquired primarily by Sir Richard Wallace, mainly in 1871, from the collections of Sir Samuel Rush Meyrick, founding father of the serious study of arms and armour in Britain, and that of the Comte de Nieuwerkerke, Director of the Louvre under the Emperor Napoleon III.
It is thereby an important surviving example of the 19th century passion for collecting arms and armour, whose rarity, beauty of design, superlative craftsmanship and richness of decoration were the guiding principles behind its formation. The collection is wide-ranging, with the earliest pieces of armour dating from the 14th century, the earliest sword from the 10th century, while the very fine historic firearms collection spans the 16th to the 19th centuries.
In Masterpieces of European Arms and Armour in the Wallace Collection, curator Tobias Capwell along with David Edge, Head of Conservation, introduce this significant collection in an historical context, highlighting 70 of the collection's most interesting objects, spanning from before 1400 to after 1800. Among these are the earliest piece in the collection, a Scandinavian sword dating from the early medieval‘Viking age'; a golden tournament helmet of Emperor Ferdinand I from 1555; a dagger from c. 1600 belonging to French King Henri IV; and a flint lock pistol dating from c.1740 of Prince Louis, Dauphin of France, the eldest son of King Louis XV.