Specialist Becky MacGuire on the story behind a pair of pistols that link George Washington, the Marquis de Lafayette and Simón Bolívar — offered in Classic Week at Christie’s
‘Every once in a while, we are lucky enough to work with something at Christie’s that connects us to the giants of history, so that they jump off the pages of the history books and seem alive,’ says Christie’s specialist Becky MacGuire. ‘These pistols are a perfect example, serving as a link between three revolutionary heroes: George Washington, the Marquis de Lafayette and Simón Bolívar.’
A magnificent & important cased pair of French silver-mounted rifled flintlock pistols. By Nicolas-Noël Boutet, Versailles. 16 3/8 in. (41.5 cm.) overall, 10 5/8 in. (27 cm.) barrels; the case 17 ¾ in. (45 cm.) x 12 ¼ in. (31 cm.). Estimate: $1,500,000-2,500,000. This work is offered in the Exceptional Sale on 13 April at Christie’s in New York
The ‘sleeping beauty’ found hidden in a tower
Having come from France to join the American Revolution at just 19 years old, Lafayette quickly attracted the attention of George Washington, who became his mentor. Years later, in 1825, Lafayette presented the pistols he had brought with him to another revolutionary: Simón Bolívar, who had dedicated his life to liberating six South American countries.
Intricately decorated, the pistols were made by Nicolas-Noël Boutet, the gunsmith to Napoleon. ‘These are treasures of a kind that we see really rarely,’ continues MacGuire. ‘These men shared a real zeal and a commitment to their ideals, which changed the world forever; these pistols are an embodiment of that’.
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