Object Title

Stirrup - part of the Tula Garniture

Stirrup - part of the Tula Garniture

Date

1745-1755

Object Number

VI.357

Provenance

Purchased Sotheby's, 21 April 1950, Lot 1. Formerly Denys A. Burnett-Hitchcock

Physical Description

All steel stirrups of arched form, the sides of convex section widening towards the treads. The side loops for the stirrup leathers are of oblong shape. The broad treads are pierced with a geometric pattern, the outer edges straight in the middle and joined to the sides by short, concave curves. The sides of the stirrups and the edges of the treads are chiselled in low relief on a gilt ground with foliate scroll-work, rococo shells and trophies of arms.

Techniques

Manufactured

Materials

Dimensions

OverallHeight7.75 inches
OverallHeight197 mm
OverallWeight0.765 kg

Associations

Bibliographic References

H.L. Blackmore, 'Les Armes de L'ImpÙratrice de Russie', Gazette des Armes, No.62, July-August, 1978, pp.25-7 (ill. p.26, fig.4)

Notes

This stirrup, one of a pair (VI.356), along with a sporting gun (XII.1504), a pair of pistols (XII.1505-6), and a powder flask (XIII.150), forms part of a fine hunting garniture known as the Tula Garniture.
Hunting garnitures usually consist of a selection of matching firearms and accessories, sometimes including edged weapons. They were produced in some numbers in the eighteenth century, especially in Germany and Russia. In Russia such garnitures became the speciality of the state small-arms factory established in 1712 in the central Russian town of Tula, which had been a centre of the gunmaking trade since the end of the sixteenth century. The state factory at Tula was principally intended to manufacture the service arms of the Russian army, but soon began to produce luxury , especially those intended for presentation by the Russian government to foreign monarchs, nobles and dignitaries.
A number of Tula garnitures survive, varying in date between 1745 and 1781.
This garniture consists of a sporting gun and a pair of pistols, all three firearms bearing the monogram of Empress Elizabeth of Russia (reigned 1741-62) and dated 1752, together with a powder flask and a pair of stirrups, neither of which are either dated or marked with the Imperial monogram. It is probable they were associated with the guns in the late eighteenth century.
The steel parts of the garniture are decorated with chiseled ornament on a gold ground which is characteristic of the Tula factory. As with most Russian weapons of this period, all the decoration is in the French style, and is here based closely upon the designs published by De Lacollombe about 1706 and by Nicholas Guerard in 1719. Indeed the silver inlaid decoration on the butt of the sporting gun is almost an exact copy of one of Guerard's designs.
The history of this garniture is uncertain, but it appears that it was brought from Moscow in 1812 by Chevalier Louis Guerin de Bruslart, a colourful character, who at the time appears to have been acting as a bourbon agent attached to the invading French army. Shortly afterwards on a visit to London, Bruslart befriended one William Vardon, an ironmonger of Gracechurch Street, with whom he left the garniture, probable as security for a loan. The garniture remained in his and his descendants possession until its sale in London in 1950. In 1883 William Vardon's nephew claimed that the garniture had been entrusted to Bruslart's care in 1812 "by a Russian nobleman to be given to some member of the French nobility on his or her personal application". This is perhaps confirmed by a number of letters (now in the Royal Armouries archives) dated 1814, which suggest that the arms and accoutrements were deposited with Vardon by Bruslart were the property of the Vicomtesse de Richemont.