Light Crossbow (Schnepper) from the Armory of Sedlitz Palace
Johann Gottfried Hänisch the Elder (German, Dresden, 1696–1778)
Steel, wood (walnut), staghorn, hemp, wool, gold
L. 27 11/16 in. (70.3 cm); W. 22 1/2 in. (57.1 cm); Wt. 4 lb. 5 oz. (1,949 g)
Purchase, Arthur Ochs Sulzberger Gift, 2010
Not on view
This light crossbow belongs to a series of nearly identical weapons––once numbering 24––from Sedlitz Palace near Dresden, a residence of the dukes of Saxony. Duke Friedrich August I "the Strong" (1670–1733) and his son Friedrich Augustus II (1696–1763) also ruled as Kings of Poland from 1697 to 1763. Shooting competitions with guns and crossbows took place during congregations of the Polish chivalric Order of the White Eagle, which had its official seat at the palace. Made by the ducal court crossbow-maker in Dresden, the elaborate decoration of this weapon reflects the high esteem in which the art of crossbow-making was held at thee court during the eighteenth century.