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All Depends Upon the Brave: Recent Research into Museum Collections of Ottoman, Middle Eastern and Asian Arms and Armour

Friday 30 September 2016 & Saturday 1 October 2016, 10:00 – 17:00

Untitled-5The Oriental Armoury at Hertford House is one of the few areas of the Wallace Collection to remain uncatalogued. Since 2005, a major research project has been underway to remedy this great gap in scholarship.

However, the researching and cataloguing of what has since the nineteenth century been traditionally referred to in the West as ‘Oriental’ arms and armour presents many challenges, as numerous as the diverse regions, cultures and peoples from which they come.

Moreover, the Wallace Collection is not the only museum now confronting the complexities of this area of international art historical enquiry. A number of institutions around the world are preparing or have recently completed major catalogue projects similar to that in progress at Hertford House. This conference seeks to explore the issues and intricacies inherent in the study of this field, while also celebrating the great works of art with which it is populated.

This conference is generously supported by The Monument Trust.


Day 1

10.00 – 10.20 Registration Coffee, tea
10.20 – 10.30 Welcome
10.30 – 11.10 1. Michael Spink, Independent Scholar; Wallace Collection
Catalogue Specialist
Indian Decorative Arts in the Wallace Collection
11.10 – 11.50 2. Dr. Sonia O’Connor, Bradford University; Wallace Collection Catalogue Specialist Material Choices: Reassessment of the Animal Hard Tissues Used for Hilts and Handles
11.50 – 12.10 3. Cassandra Parsons, Photographer; Wallace Collection All Depends Upon the Lighting
12.10 – 12.30 4. Suzanne Higgott, Glass, Limoges Painted Enamels and Earthenwares; Wallace Collection Who Bought it, Where and When? Continuing Provenance Research on the Ottoman, Middle Eastern and Asian Arms and Armour in the Wallace Collection
12.30 – 12.50 Discussion
12.50 – 14.00 Lunch break
14.00 – 14.40 5. Simon Metcalf, The Queen’s Armourer; Royal Collection Royal Collection Catalogue Raisonnés: Building on Experience in the Approach to Cataloguing Eastern Arms and Armour
14.40 – 15.20 6. Edward Hunter, The Metropolitan Museum of Art,
Conservator; Arms and Armour
From Storage to Spotlight: Behind the Scenes of the Publication of Islamic Arms and Armor in the
Metropolitan Museum of Art
15.20 – 15.45 Tea break
15.45 – 16.25 7. Dr. Thom Richardson, Curator Emeritus; Royal Armouries The Taylor Collection of South Indian Arms in the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge
16.25 – 16.45 Discussion
16.45 – 16.50 Concluding remarks

Day 2

10.00 – 10.20 Registration Coffee, tea
10.20 – 10.25 Welcome
10.25 – 11.05 8. Dr. Rachel Parikh, Harvard University; Wallace Collection
Catalogue Specialist
‘Behind the (Dama)scene: Cataloguing Indian and Islamic Arms and Armour at The Wallace Collection’
11.05 – 11.40 9. Prof. Alan Williams, Archaeometallurgist;
Wallace Collection
The Non-Invasive Analysis of Oriental Arms and Armour
11.40 – 12.00 10. David Edge, Armourer and Head of Conservation; Wallace Collection The Application of Scientific Analysis to the Conservation and Display of Oriental Arms and Armour
12.00 – 12.20 11. Graeme Mcarthur, Metals Conservator; Wallace Collection Mixed Media: Challenges in the Conservation of Eastern Arms and Armour
12.20 – 12.40 Discussion
12.40 – 13.40 Lunch break
13.40 – 14.15 12. Francesca Levey, Research Associate, Wallace Collection; Metalwork Conservation Student, West Dean College Pierced, Punched, Perforated: Problems of Openwork on Middle and Far Eastern Weapons and Armour in the Wallace Collection
14.15 – 14.55 13. Dr. Bernd Augustin, Independent Scholar Persian Flowers Blossoming in India-The Work of Mohamed Baqir Mashadi, Swordsmith of Safdar Jung Bahadur
14.55 – 15.35 14. Natasha Bennett, Acting Curator, Oriental Collections; Royal Armouries From Victorian Documentation to 21st-Century Crowd Curation? The Ongoing Process of Cataloguing the Oriental Collection at the Royal Armouries
15.35 – 16.00 Tea break
16.00 – 16.40 15. Nidarn Singh Nihang; Master of Indian Battlefield Arts Tigers Who Fight Like Ants: The Practical Use of Indian Weapons
16.40 – 16.50 Discussion and concluding remarks


Dear Wallace Collection,

Having been to day 2 for Ottoman, Middle Eastern and Indian Arms and Armour, I have to say that the experience was engaging and amazing.

Professor Tobias Capwell conducted the event in an informal yet positive way with excellent academic seminars (and one practical one concerning Historical Martial Arts).

I would highly recommend this event to anyone wanting to come back, would like more events like these to occur (with Arms and Armour being the focal point of the Wallace Collection) and look forward to more events like these in the future.


Nicholas Petrou

Nicholas Petrou on 2 October 2016