The rapier said to have belonged to Rubens

On its stand at Brafa 19, the Foundation is presenting the rapier offered to Rubens by King Charles I of England. This unique piece bears witness to the artist’s considerable diplomatic skills.

This is the first time that the rapier has ever been shown in public. It was offered to Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640) in 1630 by King Charles I of England. In that year, Rubens had put his talents as a diplomat in the service of the English and Spanish courts during peace negotiations to put an end to 5 years of conflict between the two countries. It was a complex situation that needs to be seen within the context of the wars that were shaking Europe at the start of the 17th century.

The rapier is characterised by its fine, long blade. Floral motifs and 14 medallions decorate the handle, which is damasked in gold. It was probably made in the 16th century and is most likely of Italian origin. In-depth research will enable new elements about its creation to be discovered.

The rapier had been passed down from generation to generation by the descendants of Rubens. The children of Count Jean-Marie van der Stegen de Schrieck donated it to the King Baudouin Foundation, thanks to the intervention of Count Joseph van der Stegen de Schrieck. It now falls upon the Foundation to take care of the rapier and make it accessible to future generations.

Alongside the rapier, the Foundation also received a certificate of knighthood, dated 25 December 1630, which testifies to the ennoblement of Rubens by Charles the First. Unfortunately, the document was badly damaged in a fire, but happily a facsimile had been made in 1877 to mark 300 years since the birth of Rubens. This facsimile is also part of the donation.

All of these objects have been listed by the Wallonia-Brussels Federation. They have now been entrusted to the Grand Curtius Museum in Liege and will be exhibited at the Château de Wagnée (in the Province of Namur), where this testimony to the history of our country has been preciously conserved for many decades.

Type of acquisition: 
Donated by the children of Count Jean-Marie van der Stegen de Schrieck, thanks to the intervention of Count Joseph van der Stegen de Schrieck
Year of acquisition: 
Depository institution: 
Grand Curtius, Luik