An extremely fine, important Nubian head rapier from the workshop or school of Giovanni Bologna (Giambologna) 1529-1608 and most probably commissioned by the Medici Court. This robust chiseled steel rapier is in extraordinary condition. It is profusely chiseled in fine detail all over its entire surface.
Its pommel is a very large Nubian head, finely detailed with prominent features; curly hair, large nose, large eyes and adorned with a wreath on its head and jewelry around its neck. The wreath, necklace and eyes are highlighted with applied silver. The counterguards and quillions are also adorned with detailed Nubian heads, but smaller. All highlighted with silver wreaths. In all there are 6 beautifully sculpted Nubian heads. The chiseled grip is also decorated with 2 Nubian heads, one on each side. In all, this very fine rapier bears 8 Nubian heads! The very robust hilt is about 9 ½” tall x 8” wide.
The fine steel blade, flattened oval in cross section with an 11” fuller on each side, is about 44” long and was probably shortened by 3 or 4 inches during its lifetime. Its forte is profusely chiseled, guilt in gold and bears the deep cartouche of the Milanese armourer Antonio Piccinnino on its ricasso.
This fine arm has no restorations or repairs and is in exceptional original condition, just as it appeared in the Dreger collection nearly 100 years ago.
Giovanni Bologna was born in Flanders, studied in Antwerp, moved to Italy in 1550, studied in Rome and settled in Florence in 1553 when he became the Medici Court sculptor. Giovanni Bologna was a contemporary of Michelangelo, whom he met in Rome.
This sword is published in the book “Die Waffen Sammlung Dreger” 1926. It is pictured in the August 2, 1927 Fischer auction catalog “Schwerter-Sammlung Des Hern Dr. Ing. H.C.M., Dreger-Berlin”
and it is also mentioned on page 71 “Royal Armouries Yearbook”, vol. 3, 1998.
In the portrait of Fernando II de Medici, about 1622-1625, from the workshop of Justus Sutterman, Fernando II wears a similar Nubian head rapier. (Metropolitan Museum of Art collection.)
Ex private American collection. Ex Terrence Porter, England collection. Ex private European collection, Ex Dr. Ing.H.C.M. Dreger, Berlin collection.
A very important and very interesting top museum quality rapier.
Very serious inquiries only.
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Antique Arms and Armor