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Luce Foundation Center for American Art

Craft: Metal: Alaric - King of the Visigoths
Alaric - King of the Visigoths


Alaric - King of the Visigoths
Larry Fuegen
mixed media
11 1/4 x 11 3/8 x 5 5/8 in. (28.5 x 28.8 x 14.3 cm)
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Brian Leyden
1998.132A-B
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The intricately carved handle of this knife shows the figure of Alaric, who led the Visigoths from the end of the fourth century into the beginning of the fifth. He and his troops plundered Greece, invaded Italy, and finally defeated Rome in 410 AD. Larry Fuegen used ancient materials, including buffalo horn, mammoth ivory, and deer antler, to create an image of the warrior that could have been made by an artisan traveling with the Visigoths. Fuegen crafted Alaric's helmet from silver and gold and used sapphire fittings for his staring eyes. He forges most of his blades from Damascus steel, a metal made from layers of hard and soft steel that are repeatedly turned and hammered until wavelike patterns appear on the surface.


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