Dating to the mid-18th century, this extremely fine turn-over system double barrel flintlock rifle features elaborate rococo style ornament framing small game scenes, figures of classically inspired hunters, a depiction of Diana with a bow and hound, and a bizarre scene on the tang of the heel plate depicting a man and woman in contemporary attire collecting small song bird chicks from a nest in a tree using a ladder, all either finely chiseled or cast and chased in low relief against gilt backgrounds. The maker, Joseph Fruewürth, is recorded as beginning his career as a gunmaker working for Prince Esterhazy at Schloss Forchtensein before becoming a master and then, from 1758, a court gunmaker. The octagonal barrels are each cut with seven groove rifling, with dovetailed brass front sight, notch rear sight with foliage engraved base, and chiseled with a panel of rococo ornament framing a vignette of a classically inspired hunter with a hound in a wooded landscape. The flanks of the barrels with molded walnut side filets each with dark horn tip, one side is fitted with a bright steel sling mount, the other side with silver baluster ramrod pipes housing the original wooden ramrod with dark horn tip, the silver ramrod entry pipe with finial finely cast and chased with rococo ornament against a gilt background. The breech ends of each barrel with own priming pan and frizzen, each one finely chiseled with further rococo ornament against a gilt background and signed “IN WIENN.” Action faced in brass to aid the turning of the barrels, the trigger plate with second front "trigger" protruding through the front of the trigger guard releasing the barrels. The upper tang of the action and the flat bevelled lock each chiseled in low relief with further rococo ornament against a gilt background, the ornament on the tail of the lock including a vignette of two deer, the lock is also signed “I. FRUEWÜRTH” behind the cock. Cast and chased silver furniture comprising side plate, heel plate and trigger guard all decorated en suite. Finely figured walnut stock with slightly raised cheekpiece and sliding patch box cover, carved in relief with sprays of rococo ornament throughout. The underside of the butt with the corresponding steel sling mount.
Very fine. The barrels and lock mechanism display a grey patina with crisp chiseled ornament. One front sight is missing. The silver furniture is very good with a general slight age softening to the cast and chased decoration. The scene involving the collecting of song birds from the tree on the heel plate tang has slightly more wear to the high points of decoration, it being a deeper and more elaborate scene. The silver has a dark patina and has not been polished or cleaned. The gilt backgrounds are good throughout. The stock has scattered age related storage and handling marks throughout. Mechanically excellent.
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