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Double-Barreled Flintlock Shotgun

Double-Barreled Flintlock Shotgun with Exchangeable Percussion Locks and Barrels MET LC-42 50 7a n-076

Double-Barreled Flintlock Shotgun

This Double-Barreled Flintlock Shotgun is one of the richest and ornate firearms made after the Restoration of the monarchy in France in 1815. Its decoration is reminiscent of the style fashionable before the French Revolution. The owner prized this gun so much that he commissioned skilled gun makers to produce a similarly decorated set of barrels and locks using percussion caps, after a more advanced method of ignition were developed.

This shotgun was made by Nicolas-Noël Boutet (1761 – 1833) who was a French gunsmith who was director of the Versailles state arms factory. He was “gunmaker-in-ordinary” to King Louis XVI of France and during the revolution, he worked for Napoleon as director of the state arms manufactory.

Flintlock

Flintlock is a general term for any firearm that uses a flint striking ignition mechanism. The flintlock, that was introduced in the early 17th century and replaced earlier firearm-ignition technologies, such as the match-lock and wheel-lock. Flintlock continued to be in common use for over two centuries, replaced by percussion cap and, later, the cartridge-based systems in the early-to-mid 19th century.

Firearms using some form of flintlock mechanism were the primary form of weapons for over 200 years. The transition to percussion cap was a slow one, as a result of the flintlock’s long active life, it left a lasting legacy on our language. Terms such as: “lock, stock and barrel”, “going off half-cocked” and “flash in the pan” stayed current in English. Also, the weapon holding positions and drill commands that were originally devised to standardise carrying, loading and firing a flintlock weapon stayed the standard for drill and display.

Double-Barreled

The time needed to reload, led to the need for flintlocks to be produced with two or more barrels for multiple shots. Most flintlocks were made built at a time before modern manufacturing processes became common. Even in mass-produced weapons, parts were often handmade. Machine-made, interchangeable parts began to be used just before flintlocks were replaced by caplocks.

Bourbon Restoration

The French Revolution and Napoleonic eras brought significant changes to France however after the Bourbon restoration, the old aristocracy returned and recovered much of the land they owned. However, they ultimately lost all their old feudal rights and became more conservative. France was slow to industrialise, but there was an emerging French nationalism that showed its national pride in the Army, and foreign affairs.

Reflections

  • What has been the cultural impact of Flintlock Shotgun?
  • Why were ornate firearms so prized?
  • Was this prized Shotgun ever used or was it mainly displayed?

Explore Arms and Armor Collection in the Metropolitan Museum of Art – MET

Double-Barreled Flintlock Shotgun

  • Title:              Double-Barreled Flintlock Shotgun
  • Date:             1818–20
  • Geography:    French
  • Gunsmith:       Nicolas Noël Boutet (French, 1761–1833)
  • Materials:        Steel, gold, wood (walnut), silver, horn
  • Culture:           French, Versailles and Paris
  • Dimensions:    L. of gun 47 3/8 in. (120.3 cm); Wt. of gun 6 lbs. 15 oz. (3150 g);
  • Museum:        Metropolitan Museum of Art – MET

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“A bad craftsman blames his tools.
– French Proverb

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Photo Credit: 1) Metropolitan Museum of Art [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons

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