Flintlock and matchlock rifle

Louis XIII (1601-1643) was a great lover of weaponry and fascinated by technique. During his reign, he brought together an exceptional collection of arms. He gave the best arquebusiers in the kingdom a home in the Louvre Palace. He commissioned work from the arms-makers Le Bourgeois or François Duclos, who made this piece dating from 1636. This is one of the first firearms made with a flintlock.

About the work

 

 

Detail of flintlock
© musée de l'Armée (Dist. RMN-Grand Palais) photo by Jean-Yves and Nicolas Dubois

 

Still at its beginnings, the flint mechanism (shown here to the right of the gunlock) was combined with a less innovative matchlock system (on the left). The ingenious system meant two shots could be fired in quick succession from the same gun. The rifle is both a remarkable technical achievement and a real masterpiece of ornamentation. For this royal order, François Duclos showed his virtuosity in a wide range of decorative techniques, such as gilding, engraving, carving, blue-staining and damascening.

 

 

 

The rifle butt is designed like a scroll and decorated with a bronze bust of Minerva.

 

 

Detail of the rifle butt
© musée de l'Armée (Dist. RMN-Grand Palais) photo by Jean-Yves and Nicolas Dubois

 

A gilded brass applique is fixed near the breech. In the centre is the figure of Justice - wearing a blindfold - with her elbow on the "L" standing for the name of the king. Below there is a plaque with a Latin inscription addressed to Louis XIII that can be translated as: "O Louis, this blind thing has given you its eyes".

 

 

 

 

Symbol of Justice on a gilded, open-work brass applique
© musée de l'Armée (Dist. RMN-Grand Palais) photo by Jean-Yves and Nicolas Dubois

 

Label

 


Date : 1636

Width :  0,13 m and Height: 1,52 m

Weight : 3,87 kg

Author : François Duclos

Inventory no. : M 410

Materials: Iron, silver, copper, brass, bronze, mother of pearl and wood

Techniques : Engraving, blue-tinting, damascening, chiselling and gilding

History : Personal order made by King Louis XIII to François Duclos for his personal arms cabinet. Listed on the Crown's weapons inventory as number 151, the piece was transferred to the Artillery Museum, then exhibited at the Sovereigns Museum from 1852. It was returned to the Artillery Museum on 29 June 1872.

Place of creation: Louvre Galleries, Paris