Pair of Pistols with Flintlocks a Las Tres Modas

Gunsmith Workshop of the Ybarzabel family Spanish

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 375

Spanish gun barrels were renowned for their quality from the sixteenth century. Significant firearms production did not develop, however, until the next century and the invention of an original flintlock mechanism nicknamed miquelet (a French word meaning "Spanish bandit"). Due to Spain’s extensive commerce and vast territorial possessions, Spanish firearms with this ignition device became popular in all Mediterranean regions and the Middle East. The miquelet was so sturdy and reliable that it remained in use up to about 1850. When a branch of the French royal family, the house of Bourbon, ascended the Spanish throne in 1700, it brought a considerable French influence to the art of the gunmakers in Madrid. Some hybrids of fashionable French forms and traditional local designs were designated a la moda (in current fashion) or a las tres modas (in three fashions—that is, French, Spanish, and Italian). Provincial gunmakers, however, continued working in old ways. In Catalonia (northeastern Spain), they produced pistols of original, compact form, to be carried on a belt at the waist or on a special bandolier. Stocks of local firearms were often encased in chiseled metal mounts, both to reinforce and to embellish the weapons. In general, Spanish arms decorators adorned only the metal parts of a firearm and did not indulge in the elaborately carved and inlaid stocks produced elsewhere in Europe.

Pair of Pistols with Flintlocks a Las Tres Modas, Workshop of the Ybarzabel family (Spanish, Eibar, recorded 1784–1891), Steel, gold, wood (walnut), Spanish, Eibar

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