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A 54-BORE GERMAN WHEEL-LOCK SPORTING CARBINE
A 54-BORE GERMAN WHEEL-LOCK SPORTING CARBINE

CIRCA 1585, THE STOCK ATTRIBUTED TO PETER OPEL OF REGENSBURG

Details
A 54-BORE GERMAN WHEEL-LOCK SPORTING CARBINE
Circa 1585, the stock attributed to Peter Opel of Regensburg
With swamped sighted barrel cut with eight grooves and with applied stepped brass ring at the muzzle issuing from the mouth of a monster, the upper surface chiselled in relief on a punched ground throughout its length with standing figures in armour holding swords and mostly surmounted by two shields charged with respectively the arms of Saxony and the crossed swords of the Archmarshalship of the Holy Roman Empire, the shields above one figure bearing a single-headed eagle and quartered arms without any charges, each figure with a townscape in the background, and above these with a putto bearing a vacant armorial cartouche, the bottom figure probably representing the Emperor, flat lock chiselled in relief on a punched ground with foliated scrollwork inhabited by naked female figures, a hound and a bird, chiselled pan-cover with slotted release button, chiselled cock in the form of a monster-head, dark walnut full stock (minor chips) inlaid with white horn lines and finely carved in relief with running tendrils bearing leaves, fruit and berries and with elaborate scenes of the chase, each in a wooded landscape, and on the underside in front of the trigger-guard with a huntsman and his hound, the butt enriched with white staghorn panels engraved with scrolls, masks, fruit and foliage, iron trigger-guard, set trigger (incomplete), engraved white staghorn ramrod-pipes and fore-end tip, later horn butt-plate, and horn-tipped ramrod, the patch-box cover faced with white staghorn engraved with a wildfowler and his dog in a landscape
23 in. (60.3 cm.) barrel
Provenance
Rothschild inv. no. AR2299.
Literature
H. Schedelmann, Die Grossen Bchsenmacher, Brunswick, 1972, p. 32, pl. 55.
Exhibited
Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum, inv. no. A 2276, from 1967.

Lot Essay

The stock can be attributed to Peter Opel on stylistic grounds. The carving compares very closely to that on two stocks in the Hofjagd- und Leibrstkammer, Vienna (inv. nos. D 89 and D 213), the latter of which is signed (Schedelmann, op. cit., p. 33, pl. 57), and another (unsigned) in the Bayerisches Nationalmuseum, Munich (inv. no. W 629). A second signed stock is in the Muse de l'Arme, Paris (inv. no. M 83), and a third in the Waddesdon Bequest (inv. no. WB 7), on a rifle bequeathed to the British Museum by Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild in 1898. The stock attributed to Opel in the Victoria and Albert Museum (inv. no. M. 48-1953) is carved in a somewhat different style.

The scenes of the chase are derived from prints by the Nuremberg artist Virgil Solis (1514-62).

The arms above one figure on the barrel are almost certainly those of Brandenburg. The rifle is therefore likely to have belonged to Christian I, Elector of Saxony (1560-1591), or to his wife Sophia, daughter of Johann Georg, Elector of Brandenburg, whom he married in 1582.
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