Pair of Snaphaunce Pistols

Gunsmith: Matteo Cecchi, called Acquafresca (Italian, Bargi, 1651–1738)

Barrelsmith: Giovan Battista Francino (Italian, Brescia, active second half of 17th century)

Date: ca. 1690

Geography: Bargi

Culture: Italian, Bargi

Medium: Steel, silver, wood (ebony)

Dimensions: L. of each pistol 21 1/2 in. (54.7 cm); L. of each barrel 15 in. (38.2 cm); Cal. of each barrel 1/2 in. (13 mm)

Classification: Firearms-Pistols-Snaphaunce

Credit Line: Purchase, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Gift, 2006

Accession Number: 2006.471.1, .2


Acquafresca was one of the most talented Italian gunmakers of all time. His mastery of relief-chiseled and engraved steel was unsurpassed, Although he worked in the isolated hamlet of Bargi, near Bologna, he was well aware of international firearms fashion, including gunmakers' pattern books published in Paris. He had a sophisticated clientele, among them the ruling Medici family of Florence.

These pistols are among Acquafresca's best preserved and most original works. The black ebony stocks contrast with the bright steel mounts and silver wire inlay. The facing male and female heads on chiseled steel plaques set into the grips, behind the barrel, perhaps allude to the gunmaker's noble patrons. The silver wire ornament on each pistol is distinctly different. The barrels are inscribed prominently with Acquafresca's name.