Rapier of the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian II

During the Renaissance civilian swords were not just weapons: they were works of art. The rapier of the Holy Roman Emperor Maximilian II (1527-1576) is the paragon of the art of the sword. Modelled with unbelievable skill in solid gold, the hilt, glittering with multi-coloured enamel in many bright colours, is set onto a deadly Milanese blade of the very best quality. 

Beside jewels, the blade is incribed with the mark and name of the maker Lucio Marliani, called Piccinino (1538 - 1607). Lucio Piccinino was described by Paolo Morigia in his "La nobilta di Milano" (1595) - "The Milan Nobility" - as being the son of the famous swordsmith Alessandro Piccinino, who died in 1589, and brother of Federigo, another swordsmith.

Morigia writes that he "works in relief on iron and silver, whether in grotesque figures or other strange animal forms (and in) leaf-work and landscapes he is most excellent, and particularly skilful in his damascening, and has made some outstanding armours for His Serene Highness the Duke of Parma, Alessandro Farnese, and for other Princes which are regarded as rare objects." He was still working at the time Morigia was writing.

Photo source: Collector’s Club of Great Britain

Info source: The Wallace Collection

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