The pistols were made by Johan Adolph Grecke in Saint Petersburg in 1786 and were accompanied by a fowling piece and a rifle. Although the rifle has been lost, the pistols and fowling piece remain as testament to the remarkable work of the gunsmith.
With stocks of ivory, Catherine's initial is marked on the grip and she later made a gift of the guns to Prince Stanislas August Poniatowski, a favourite of the Empress. The weapons were hugely fashionable at the Russian court and now reside at the Met Museum in New York.
I cannot help but admire the exquisite workmanship of these pistols and the significance of Catherine passing them along to the prince cannot be underestimated. It sent a clear message of the strength of her respect for this particular courtier, who she supported throughout his career.
Life in the Georgian Court, true tales of 18th century royalty, is available at the links below.
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