An antique 31 bore German wheel lock sporting rifle. The stock has makers initials MS and finally inlaid with hunting subject after Jan van der Straat, circa 1590-1600. With octagonal sighted barrel swamped at the muzzle with 6 grooves, 86cm. Overall length, 114cm. The breech is cut with conjoined letters HB flat loco struck with a shield shaped mark, a pair of crossed pistols with three clusters of ball similar to Neue Stockel 5733 and fitted with rear bracket pierced with a chamfered heart shaped ring and a sliding pan cover with button release. Fruitwood full stock, profusely decorated over its entire length with engraved horn plaques. Formed as a series of hunting subjects involving figures in contemporary dress both mounted and on foot. Including a continuous woodland frieze inhabited by hares, boar, deer and foxes all pursued by hounds along the length of the forend on both sides. The scene on the right hand side also involves a camel and that on the left expanded in the lock revealing a horseman killing a boar.
The butt is decorated over its full length of the underside with a series of pierced rollwerk plaques involving grotesque masks and dogs heads. The pierced figures of a huntsman and a falconer. Birds of prey and a vignette involving a hare and a galloping stallion. The upper surfaces of the butt are decorated with a hunting freizes continued in two panels, one involving a lion and a bear inlaid with an elaborate bear hunting scene over the cheek piece. A pair of game bird plaques inlaid about the barrel tang and enclosing a smaller plaque engraved with the stock makers initial MS patch box cover veneered in horn. Entire inlaid scheme is arranged with horned segmental lines fitted with iron trigger guard, horn plaque over the ramrod and this together with a horn ramrod pipe and a fore end cap engraved with scrollwork patterns ensuite with the plaques at the rear borders. The butt plate undecorated.
The Inlaid hunting subjects are closely inspired by the engraving of the Flemish artist Yan Van De Straat entitled Stradanus and dated1523-1605. The horses, hounds and other animals conspicuously so. While none of the inlaid scenes are taken directly from the engraving it is none the less clear that the stock maker has adopted some of the original scenes and many of the individual engraved subjects to suit his purposes. The beast hunting scene on the cheek piece for example draws on a engraved scene involving the variety of notably exoctic beasts e.g. lions etc. After 1567 Van De Straat executed a series of hunting themed designs for tapestry intended for the Villa Poggio A Caiano of Cosimo, 1st Grand Duke of Tuscany. Engravings of these were published circa 1574-76. Two further series of his hunting engravings, 44-61, were first published in 1578 with subsequent editions widely circulated.
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