Louis-Julien Gastinne-Renette (1812-1885) was a gunmaker to the leaders of France and Spain. This pair was crafted in 1844 and displayed at the French Industrial Exposition of 1844, the 10th of the eleven expositions in Paris that served as precursors to the first World's Fair in 1851. Gastinne-Renette earned an award at the fair, and these pistols are prominently illustrated within "Exposition de l'Industrie Française, Année 1844..." in volume one in between pages 44 and 45. The authors note (roughly translated from French): "One of the beautiful things in the exhibition of weapons was a pair of pistols of M. Gastinne Renette. The guns of molten steel are richly chiseled; the angles formed by the sides of the barrel are rounded in small columns which support an elegant warhead; the ornaments are very tasteful; the gilding is skillfully aged and goes well with the gray color given to the steel. We no less admired the boxes of pistols sent by M. Gastinne Renette; they are made of ebony and stationed in chiseled iron. In a word, all the pieces he had exhibited justified the reputation of the former Renette house, the only one in Paris said to be where the firearm is made entirely." The pair was previously on loan to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (L.1991.70.2) and on display in the newly renovated Arms & Armor Galleries staring in October 1991. They are noted as reflecting the "eclectic mid-century taste for the Gothic and Renaissance style. The use of figural decoration and gilding is highly unusual for the period." In between the spiraled columns on the upper left of the barrels is "EXP DN 1844" in gold, on top is "GASTINNE RENETTE BTE," and on the upper right has "A PARIS." The bottom of the barrels have "crown/A-R" cartouches along with "1844" and "376." (along with "2" on the "B" pistol). The locks are signed "Gastinne Renette a Paris" on the locks below the hammers. The pistols are decorated extensively with very intricate patterns including incredible three-dimensional sculpted figures on the hammer, trigger guard, and pommels. Even the triggers are pierced and engraved. The barrels have sculpted armored soldiers between columns. The side plates have pairs of reclined women and masks. There are additional grotesque masks among the designs on the other components, including among the scroll carving on the ebony stocks. The stocks also have gold wire inlaid scrolls. The case and accessories are also works of art. The case has elaborate steel fittings. The inside of the case has embossed scroll patterns and gold scrolls. The inside of the lid has "GASTINNE-RENETTE/A PARIS." The accessories match the pistols and feature carving, sculpting, and engraving coordinating with the pistols. The accessories include: loading rod, cleaning rod, mallet, bullet mold, cap and patch containers, nipple wrench/screwdriver, measure, and powder flask.
Exceptionally fine overall with nearly all of the original gold, smooth gray with spots of slight discoloration on the balance, crisp patterns throughout, a few slivers of gold wire replaced with silver or steel, patch of mild pitting on the bottom of the barrel visible only with the barrel dismounted, thin cracks near the top of the wrist and front and rear of the lock, and minor handling and storage wear overall. Mechanically excellent. The case is very fine and has some cracks in the lid and mild storage wear including some fading and compression marks on the interior. The accessories are very fine and have minimal wear.
Exceptionally fine overall with nearly all of the original gold, a few small slivers of gold wire absent or loose, a few spots of replaced wire, smooth gray with some spots of slight discoloration on the balance, crisp patterns and designs throughout, patches of mild pitting on the bottom of the barrel visible only with the barrel dismounted, and minor handling and storage wear overall. Mechanically excellent. This is an incredible cased set from one of France's most respected gunmakers that is documented as making a splash at the French Industrial Exposition of 1844. Provenance: Ckarence B. Fall, Richard P. Mellon sold at Sotheby's, London, October 11, 1971, lot 284 and Dr. Gerald Klaz collection.
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