Behind the Scenes, Education, J. Paul Getty Museum

Everything You Wanted to Know about Medieval Arms and Armor

Meet master blacksmith Tony Swatton and learn how arms and armor were made in the Middle Ages at these free, drop-in events

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Tony Swatton has been forging armor, swords, helmets, and shields for 30 years. If you’ve seen an action movie or music video with a cool-looking dagger or suit of gleaming metal—whether Batman or Katy Perry—chances are it came from his Burbank armory.

And now, at free demos inspired by the exhibition Chivalry in the Middle Ages, Tony is turning the Getty Center courtyard into a mini blacksmith’s shop complete with armor, chain mail, and battle helmets. And yes, you get to try them on! There’s no blast forge—you can watch his Man of Arms videos for that—but Tony will show how a blacksmith tames steel the old-fashioned way to make tools of the trade for the working knight (or Hollywood stuntman).

As with all our Artist at Work programs, this is a drop-in, please-touch program with plenty of time for questions. So if you ever wanted to know what it really takes to be a knight in shining armor, drop by and meet Tony.

Here’s the full schedule:

Artist at Work: Arms and Armor
Sundays, 1–3 pm
August 3, 10, 24, and 31
October 19 and 26
November 2

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See more photos from Tony’s demos on Flickr.

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      A Brief History of the Fleur-de-lis in Art

      The fleur-de-lis, a familiar symbol with varied meanings and a rather obscure origin.

      If you read the labels of objects in museums bearing the fleur-de-lis (in French, fleur de lys, pronounced with the final “s”), you might notice that they were all made in France before the French Revolution of 1789. 

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      Adopted as a royal emblem in France by the 1100s, the fleur-de-lis can be traced to early Frankish monarchs including Clovis I, who converted to Christianity in 496, and the renowned Charlemagne. 

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      As a heraldic symbol used in the arms of the French monarchy, the fleur-de-lis often appears in yellow or gold tones and set on a blue shield. 

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      Full blog post on the Getty Iris here.

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