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Type of Item
The Fencing Lesson
This original ink-and-watercolor caricature shows a petite, prancing Napoleon dueling with a heavy, domineering Gerhard Leberecht von Blücher, while a British sailor judges the match. The participants in the duel are backed by supporters: Napoleon’s faction includes French generals, while von Blücher’s includes German peasants and a Russian cossack. The caricature parodies political conditions at the time. Following Napoleon’s retreat from Russia, the Germanic states, led by Prussia, reentered the wars against Napoleon. At the time the caricature was made, Prussian incursions were the primary threat to ...
The Master of Arms, or the Exercise of the Sword, Alone in Its Perfection
The first attempts to codify the art of fencing were writings by Renaissance Italians, which then influenced later French works. These included the 1573 Traicté contenant les secrets du premier livre sur l’espée seule (Treatise containing the secrets of the first book on the sword alone) by the Provençal Henri de Saint-Didier and the 1628 L'Académie de l’épée (The school of the sword) by Girard Thibault of Antwerp. Le Maistre d'armes, ou l'Exercice de l'épée seule, dans sa perfection (The master of arms, or ...
This early-16th-century book about fencing consists almost entirely of illustrations, with a minimal amount of text appearing as captions. It consists of 258 drawings on 130 pages, most of which show a pair of fighters using the different cut and thrust weapons that were common at that time: the long sword, the short sword, and the dagger. The work is anonymous, but it owes much to the written and pictorial work of Hans Talhoffer (circa 1420–circa 1490), a fencing instructor, famous sword fighter, and author of several Fechtbücher (fencing ...
Combat Manual of 1467
This 1467 manuscript Fechtbuch (Combat manual) provides instructions for various methods of fighting, without armor and wearing different kinds of armor, and on foot and on horseback. A series of annotated illustrations is devoted to combat with swords, daggers, pikes, and other weapons. Even the rules for a trial by combat between a man and a woman are included. The author, Hans Talhoffer (circa 1420–circa 1490), was regarded in his time as an unbeatable swordsman and one of the finest teachers of the so-called German school of fencing. Because ...
Roper's Gymnasium. 274 Market Street, Philadelphia
This circa 1831 print is an advertisement for the gymnasium operated by James Roper on the 800 block of Market Street in Philadelphia. The illustration shows the interior of the facility, in which men exercise in front of a crowd of spectators. On the right, three men perform moves on a balance beam next to a wall with a rack from which boxing gloves and squash rackets hang. Beside the beam, two men wearing boxing gloves are talking near the pommel horse. In the front center and left of the ...