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Tuscan triangular dust

Tuscan workshops

Tuscany, Eighteenth century

Material: Gilded bronze

Size: Height 8 cm

review by gherardo turchi

Ancient gunpowder flask of gilded bronze embossed and chiseled on both sides. The object is part of the shotgun accessories made in Tuscany during the Eighteenth century, often used with a pair of duelling pistols. On one side there is an embossed decoration depicting the three deities: Mercury, bearing the Caduceus sceptre; Apollo, sitting on his chariot; and Poseidon, positioned alongside conversing sea dragons. The three figures are embroiled in twirls and spirals intended to represent the ethereal world of the Gods, depicted, as usual, above the clouds. On the other side of the specimen there is an embossed scene depicting a chariot-mounted battle, in which the clash of the horses appears centrally.

The use of mythological representations, together with the clash of animals, which is a symbolic reminder of the battle, was a typical decorative element of those shotgun accessories (such as gunpowder flasks), on which the great engraving or embossing masters competed during the Eighteenth century. In this era, the surfaces they decorated became veritable sites of conquests for those artisans, usually borrowed from jewellery, who worked in the Tuscan workshops of master gunsmiths. These minuscule works were typically crafted by a certain circle of engravers and chisellers from jewellers’ shops, as only careful and precise hands could work on pieces that were immediately considered real jewels of the ars belli.

This gunpowder flask has still its locking spring on the spout, used to dose gunpowder during reloading. The specimen is in a good state of preservation and represents a significant addition to the catalog of works made in Tuscany during the Eighteenth century.

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