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


These pistols are part of a deluxe garniture of ivory-stocked hunting arms made for Empress Catherine the Great (r. 1762–96), whose initial (E for Ekaterine) is on the escutcheons (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 Stanislaus Augustus Poniatowski (1732–1798), whom she backed as king of Poland (r. 1764–95). Firearms with ivory stocks, generally out of fashion in western Europe by the eighteenth century, became a favorite in the ostentatious Russian court during the last quarter of the century.