Pair of Flintlock Pistols of Empress Catherine the Great (1729–1796)

Gunsmith: Johan Adolph Grecke (Russian, Saint Petersburg, recorded 1755–90)

Date: 1786

Geography: Saint Petersburg

Culture: Russian, Saint Petersburg

Medium: Steel, ivory, gold, brass

Dimensions: L. of each 14 1/2 in. (36.8 cm)

Classification: Firearms-Pistols-Flintlock

Credit Line: Gift of John M. Schiff, in memory of Edith Baker Schiff, 1986

Accession Number: 1986.265.1, .2

Description

These pistols are part of a deluxe garniture of ivory-stocked hunting arms made for Empress Catherine the Great (reigned 1762–96), whose intial (E for Ekaterine) is on the escutcheons of the grips. The garniture, which originally consisted of these pistols, a fowling piece dated 1786 (National Museum, Warsaw), and a rifle (whereabouts unknown), was later given to her favorite, Prince Stanislas August Poniatowski (1732–1798), whom she backed as king of Poland (reigned 1763–95). Firearms with ivory stocks, generally out of fashion in western Europe by the eighteenth century, were in vogue in the ostentatious Russian court during the last quarter of the century.

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