Pair of Flintlock Holster Pistols

Gunsmith Franz Matzenkopf Austrian

Not on view

This pair of pistols occupies a special place among the luxury firearms of eighteenth-century Europe, as one of the most significant works of the Bohemian school, and as a superlative example of the virtuosity of Franz Matzenkopf, a Prague gunmaker who may be regarded one of the best steel-chisellers working outside France during the period. Born in the village of Prutz in Tirol circa 1705, and apprenticed in Vienna in 1721, Matzenkopf worked as a journeyman in Prague from 1727, and became a master gunmaker there in 1731. He quickly became one of Prague's foremost eighteenth-century gunmakers by elevating the Bohemian tradition of adorning the various metal elements of luxury sporting firearms with ornament in low relief, to an unprecedented level, equal in workmanship to the finest French firearms of the time. His exceptional abilities are readily apparent in the high quality of the chiselled ornamentation of the pistols' barrels and lockplates. Matzenkopf appears to have no longer made and embellished firearms after 1738, when he left Prague to become the die-cutter and medallist of Lepold Anton von Firmian, Prince Archbishop of Salzburg. Only eight other firearms made by him during the years he resided in Prague have been identified to date.

Pair of Flintlock Holster Pistols, Franz Matzenkopf (Bohemian (born Austria), active in Vienna, Prague, and Salzburg, ca. 1705–1776), Steel, wood (walnut), copper alloy, gold, Bohemian, Prague

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