- Designed and modeled by Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse (French, Anizy-le-Château 1824–1887 Sèvres)
- Goldsmith: Executed by Lucien Falize (French, Paris, 1842–1897)
- Dated: 1881–2
- Culture: French, Paris
- Medium: Gilt-bronze
- Classification: Swords
- Credit Line: Purchase, Gift of William H. Riggs, by exchange, 1989
This exquisitely worked sword hilt was created for Gaston de Béarn, prince of Viana (1840–1893), who had a personal devotion to Our Lady of Lourdes. The Virgin, surmounted by a crown of lilies, forms the grip and pommel. The guard is chased and pierced with a dynamic composition composed of a figure of the Archangel Michael, symbol of Christianity and leader of the armies of heaven, vanquishing Satan, here a writhing dragon with a human face.
The sword’s evocative scared imagery is almost without parallel in the context of late-nineteenth-century weapons. The hilt was designed and modeled by the sculptor Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleuse and was executed by the goldsmith-jeweler Lucien Falize. It is a rare collaboration between two of the leading artists in Paris at the end of the nineteenth century.