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.
Signature: Signed on the smooth forward section of one of the barrels, within a cartouche, in script: Acqua Fresca; on the underside of the barrel at the breech end:GIO BATT FRANCINO A (Giovan Battista Francino); on the lockplate in front of the pan: ACQUA / FRES / CA; on the second pistol's forward barrel section: Matteo Acqua Fresca.
Inscription: Inscribed on the top flat at the breech on one of the pistol's barrel: 1; on the second pistol's barrel: 2.
[Art dealer, London, until 2006; sold to MMA].
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Philippe de Montebello Years: Curators Celebrate Three Decades of Acquisitions," October 24, 2008–February 1, 2009.
Christie, Manson & Woods. Catalogue of the Important Collection of Objects of Art, Antiquities, Armour and Arms Formed by S.E. Kennedy, Esq.. London: Christie, Manson & Woods, March 18–22, 1918. no. 60, ill.
Christie, Manson & Woods. Catalogue of the Choice Collection of Objects of Art and Furniture formed by the Late George A. Lockett, Esq., and now sold owing to the death of Mrs. George Lockett. London: Christie's, Manson & Woods Ltd., June 11–12, 1942. no. 280.
Blair, Claude. European & American Arms, c. 1100–1850. New York: Crown Publishers, 1962. pl. 245 and frontispiece.
Hayward, J. F., and Claude Blair. "The R.T. Gwynn Collections." Connoisseur 149 (June, 1962). p. 80, pl. 1.
The Arms and Armour Society and Victoria and Albert Museum. The Art of the Armourer: An Exhibition of Armour, Swords and Firearms: Victoria and Albert Museum, London, 19th April–5th May, 1962: Catalogue. London: The Society, 1963. pp. 66–67, no. 227.
Hayward, J. F. The Art of the Gunmaker. Vol. 2. Europe and America, 1660–1830. London: Barrie and Rockliff, 1963. pp. 139–41, pls. 45b, 46, 47.
Thomas, Bruno, Ortwin Gamber, and Hans Schedelmann. Arms and Armour of the Western World. New York: McGraw Hill, 1964. no. 86, ill.
Boccia, Lionello G. "Gli Acquafresca di Bargi." Physis: Rivista Internazionale di Storia della Scienza 9, fasc. 1 (1967). pp. 91–160.
Blair, Claude. Pistols of the World. London: Batsford, 1968. pp. 94–95, pls. 117–18 and front jacket.
Pollard, Hugh B. C. Pollard's History of Firearms, edited by Claude Blair. 1st American ed. ed. New York: Macmillan, 1983. p. 490, pl. 111.
Boccia, Lionello G. "Una Bottega di Archibusari: Gli Acquafresca." In La Seduzione dell'Artigianato: Artigianato nella Storia; Fiera di Roma, 22 Giugno–20 Luglio 1990. Florence: Edizioni S.P.E.S., June 22–July 20, 1990. pp. 129–42.
Gwynn, R.T. "A Pair of 17th Century Italian Pistols." The Fourteenth Park Lane Arms Fair (1997). pp. 21–24.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Recent Acquisitions, a Selection: 2006–2007." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 65, no. 2 (Fall, 2007). pp. 26–27, ill.