Item ref: 3714
Private collection, Austria
This particularly delicate sword exemplifies the development of the hunting-sword in the France of Louis XV to its ultimate refinement, essentially as an elegant accessory to a gentleman’s formal hunting wardrobe. Agate had been popular in London and Dresden as early as the late 17th century as an ideal material with which to give hunting-swords and courtly small-swords a truly luxurious appearance, and naturally this fashion was further popularised by the fourbisseurs of Paris. Hilts such as this one were frequently carved and then stained in order to enhance their variegated colours, notably exported in quantities from the agate mining town of Idar-Oberstein in the Rhineland-Palatinate.
A French hunting-sword of this period with a silver and agate hilt comparable to the present example is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (26.145.244).