Nocturnal smallsword duel; German, c. 1770


Student Duel or "Rencontre"
From the beginnings, student life in Germany involved wielding sharp implements on the fencing lofts and in the streets.
This amateurish pastel drawing depicts a nocturnal scuffle between two men armed with fashionable smallswords. (If you have difficulties seeing them… they’re in the dark: slightly to the right of the orange glow of the tavern light). The participants and location are unidentified, the dating difficult due to lack of detail. Costume and fencing position would place this scene in the last third of the 18th century. The drawing was probably done for a student “Stammbuch” — a memory or scrap book in which German students captured scenes of student life and the thoughts and poetry of their fellow students and friends.
(In the Amberger Collection.)

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