The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Flint-lock gun
  • Flint-lock gun
  • Nicolas Noël Boutet (1761 - 1833)
  • Versailles, France
  • c. 1805 - 1809
  • Steel, gold, walnut, silver, whale-bone and ivory, blued, inlaid, engraved, chiselled and carved
  • Length: 122.4 cm, overall
    Weight: 3.115 kg
  • Inscription: 'Manufre a Versailles'
    Inscription: 'Boutet Directr Artiste'
    Maker's mark: An unidentified maker's mark consisting of a diamond-shaped punch, its long axis vertical, containing the letters JM with a five-pointed star in chief and an inderterminate object, apparently a bunch of grapes, in base.
  • A1127
  • European Armoury III
Commentary
History
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Double-barrelled flint-lock gun, the barrels placed side by side and joined by a rib. The surface is blued and at the breech inlaid in gold with a foliated plant issuing from the head of an Assyrian winged lion. The foresight is surrounded by gold foliage and there is a band of gold round the muzzles. Along the side of the left barrel is engraved:

    Manufre à Versailles

    Along the right:

    Boutet Directr Artiste

    With the number 37 and a small star-shaped mark. Both barrels are stamped at the breech with a maker's or proof mark. Gold disks are inlaid at the vents (which are funnel-shaped, being wider at the outer edge). The false breech of bright steel has a wide sighting notch and is engraved with foliage.

    Locks of bright polished steel, except the wheels of the steel-springs which are blued. The lock-plates are chiselled towards their ends with a sunk palmette ornament and are engraved:

    BOUTET A Versailles

    The necks of the cocks are engraved with cornucopias, and the upper jaws are chiselled with a palmette or fan ornament in relief. Similar chiselled ornament on the steels.

    The locks are retained by a single screw, the head of which is revealed when the left-hand lock is cocked. The forward end of each lock has a hook inside fitting into a hole in the stock. There is an external bridle for the pan-cover. The false-breech is secured by the tang-screw and a transverse pin.
    Stock of finely-figured walnut delicately carved in certain places, under the ramrod socket with laurel branches, by the trigger-guard, at the ends of the lock-plates and by the comb of the butt with formal foliage and honeysuckle. The side borders of the fore-end are carved with a band of semi-circular rosettes, and similar decoration surrounds the false breech. The chequering on the fore-end and at the small of the stock is studded with rows of small studs with heads of cut-steel, and similar studs, alternately round and oblong, border the heel-plate and the locks.

    The mounts are of silver gilt, chiselled with ornament in bold relief. The finial and sides of the heel-plate have similar decoration to A1126, namely, a grotesque merman, and winged monsters drinking at the sides. There is an oval gold scutcheon-plate engraved with a crowned Gothic N, similar to that on A1126. On the bow of the trigger-guard are chased the heads of two wolves and an owl, while the finial takes the form of a winged terminal figure with a satyr's head and single lion's foot supporting a basket of fruit. The heel-plate and trigger-guard are stamped with maker's excise and 2nd standard silver marks. On the underside of the butt is a large, winged head of a monster, not carved in wood as is usually the case, but chiselled in silver gilt like the other mounts. The mask on the pistol-grip is secured by a long pin with a threaded end accessible under the trigger-guard.

    The ramrod socket is chiselled with a displayed eagle surrounded by rays. The two ramrod pipes are of ungilt silver, and are carried on the under rib. Attached to the lower pipe is a silver loop for a sling. A similar loop of steel is screwed into the underside of the butt. Whale-bone ramrod with ivory tip, the end reinforced with a gold disk. The ferrule is missing.

    French (Versailles), about 1805.

    Provenance: the Emperor Nicholas I of Russia (?); the 3rd Marquess of Hertford.

    The silver marks are the same as those on A1128-9, A1131. The maker's mark on the barrel is not that of Boutet but is probably that of a member of the Leclerc family, possibly Nicholas, who was working until about 1830. It is not unusual to find Boutet using a barrel by another maker; compare A1131. It is probable in this case that the decoration was added at Versailles. See note on A1126.

    The marks consist of a) an unidentified maker's mark consisting of a diamond-shaped punch, its long axis vertical, containing the letters JM with a five-pointed star in chief and a indeterminate object, apparently a bunch of grapes, in base; b) the second standard mark (poinçon de litre) for silver made in the Departments for the period 1798-1809, and c) the poinçon de garantie for silver made in the Departments, in this case, since it includes the number 88, Seine Inférieure, for the same period (see S. Pyhrr, Arms and Armor Annual, I, pp. 266-74, fig. 9).

    Blair, Pollard's History of Firearms, 1983, pI. 124.

    According to G. F. Magne de Marolles, the mark on the barrel was used by a succession of members of the Parisian barrel-making family of Le Clerk; by Jean (died 1739), by Henri (died 1756), and by Jean-Baptiste until about 1771 (see also under A1123).

    Provenance: This might well be the piece described in: M. de Lescure, Le chateau de La Malmaison, Paris n.d. (1867), ed. H. Plon, Catalogue descriptif, critique et anecdotique des objets exposés sous les auspices de sa Majesté Is Impératrice, et provenant de la collection privée de leurs Majestés, des magazins du Mobilier de la Couronne, ou des communications faites par des particuliers, p. 225, no. 79– Fusil de chasse ayant appartenu à Napoleon ler. Collection du Marquis d'Hertford.

    The 3rd Marquess was Envoy Extraordinary to Tzar Nicholas I in 1827, and might have been given the gun then.