Excerpt from A Record of European Armour and Arms, Vol. 5: Through Seven Centuries
This volume closes the late Sir Guy Laking's "History of European Armour and Arms." The Baron de Cosson in his introduction told us something of the author. As one of his more recent friends, I should like to add a few words.
Guy Francis Laking, the only son of Sir Francis the first baronet, a well-known physician of his time, was born on the 21st of October, 1875. As a little boy he was intensely interested in arms and armour, and before me lies an essay on "The Sword of Joan of Arc," written when he was ten years old.
He was educated at Westminster School. While there he would often steal away to Christie's to wander through their Galleries, and so numerous were his visits that the late Mr. Woods noticed the boy, and after asking his name called on Sir Francis Laking to inquire about him. The visit resulted in young Laking going to Christie's. It was there that he acquired his knowledge. For years he worked steadily; his work was from the beginning his great interest, and at an age when most men enter a profession he was already sufficiently qualified to express an expert opinion on many kinds of works of art. He remained at Christie's until he died, and his last catalogues of armour, which were those of the Breadalbane and Kennedy collections, show how wide was his knowledge of the subject. His catalogues were growing to be more and more authorities for reference; in his hands they ceased to be merely lists of names and numbers.
When he died his name as a great judge of armour was known all over Europe. On mediaeval and renaissance works of art and on pictures his opinion was widely sought, and although he did not pretend to be a judge of furniture, porcelain, or tapestry, his criticism was greatly valued. He was passionately attracted from his earliest age by Chinese and Japanese art, to the study of which he always said he hoped one day to devote himself.
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