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photograph of current display in the Grand Vestibule

A display highlighting the interaction between the monarchy and the wider world


Sabre and Scabbard

RCIN 62535

Grand Vestibule, Windsor Castle

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In 1931 the Royal Academy assembled more than 2000 works for a ground-breaking International Exhibition of Persian Art. With Reza Shah Pahlavi of Iran, King George V was a chief patron of the show and lent some 14 pieces of arms and armour from Windsor Castle and Sandringham, many from the collections of George III and George IV. Among them was this sabre.

The ambitious exhibition spanned pottery, carpets, embroideries, silver and gold vessels, armour, paintings, seals, mosaics and illuminated manuscripts – as well as the crown jewels of Persia. The overall effect was of a dazzling ‘fairyland’, in keeping with contemporary ideas about Persian art as exotic and visually sublime. The New York Times described the experience as ‘stepping into a re-creation from “The Arabian Nights”’. Nevertheless, the exhibition also prompted important scholarly research in areas like manuscript painting, as well as a brief craze for Persian-style textiles and slippers.