The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
  • Stone-bow
  • Unknown Artist / Maker
  • Italy
  • 1571
  • Steel wood and ebony, engraved
  • Length: 66.5 cm
    Length: 55.9 cm, span of bow
    Weight: 1.3 kg
  • Inscription: 'H'
    Inscription: '1571'
  • A1043
  • European Armoury III
Images & Media
Further Reading
  • Stone-bow or prodd, the steel bow with a double curve. The string, with its sling, remains. This is not of the usual double type but consists of a single twisted skein, which divides in the centre to hold a small ebony button hollowed on its inner face to receive the bullet.

    Stock or tiller of ebony, the neck only slightly curved. It is of square section with bevelled edges and is decorated with carving in low relief. On the fore-end in front of the bow is a double lion's mask (above and below) from the mouth of which issues a steel, spiked ring, possibly for suspension, or to obtain purchase in bending. Behind the bow is carved a grotesque bearded mask and a band of scales, and similar ornament is on the underside of the neck; in front of the trigger is a caryatid figure. On the upper surface at the rear is a projection carved as a couchant lion holding a hare in its paws, and behind it the figure of a dog in the round. The rest of the surface is ornamented with bands of guilloche and cartouche ornament. Octagonal pommel or butt of flattened pear-shape, the facets carved alternately with masks and interlacing bands; at the end is a medallion containing the letter H among foliage. On a sunken tablet immediately behind the bow is the date 1571.

    The foresight pillars are pivoted and curved slightly rearwards. Arched backsight with architectural mouldings, the arms curved at the ends and pivoted. The bow-string catch consists of a steel nut resembling the horn nut of a bolt crossbow, but thinner and without the central opening. A small escutcheon-plate is missing from the stock immediately behind the nut. All mounts and mechanism are now bright steel. There is some ornamental engraving on the side plates of the lock mechanism.

    Italian, dated 1571.

    L'Art Ancien, V, 585; Musée Rétrospectif, 1865; L'Art pour Tous, 13me Année, no. 326, fig. 2,900.

    Provenance: Frédéric Spitzer.

    The quality of the decoration of the woodwork is so much superior to that of the metalwork that the suspicion arises that it may be by the Spitzer workshop.