Exhibition | The Art of London Firearms

Posted in exhibitions by Editor on November 12, 2018

Opening next month at The Met:

The Art of London Firearms
The Met Fifth Avenue, New York, 29 January 2019 — 29 January 2020

Samuel Brunn, detail of one of a pair of flintlock pistols, with silver mountings attributed to Michael Barnett, ca. 1800 (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1992.330.1,.2).

This exhibition will explore a fascinating and often overlooked chapter in the art of European gunmaking through a selection of important London-made firearms, dating from around 1760 through 1840, drawn exclusively from The Met collection. Many of the works have rarely, or never, been on public display. This will be the first focus exhibition in the United States in nearly fifty years to examine London firearms and will celebrate the in-depth recataloguing of this important section of the Museum’s collection.

Beginning around 1780, a small group of talented gunmakers set up workshops on the outskirts of the London city center. Their names—Durs and Joseph Egg, John and Joseph Manton, H. W. Mortimer, and Samuel Brunn, among others—are largely unknown to those outside the arms and armor field. But their contributions to the art of firearms are almost without parallel. In fierce competition with one another for lucrative commissions, fame, and prestige, they brought the flintlock gun to a level of refinement never before seen. They developed revolutionary new firearms technologies and, most importantly, a distinctly English style of firearm, wholly different from that of Continental Europe and immediately recognizable by its elegant proportions, restrained use of ornament, and precision workmanship. Indeed, they presided over what one writer of the period termed an ‘Augustine age’ of gunmaking.

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