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Powder horn

Powder horn

  • Place of origin:

    Germany (highly likely, made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1700 - ca. 1730 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Horn engraved

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Dr. W. L. Hildburgh, F. S. A., 1956

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This is a powder horn, highly likely made in Germany in about 1700-1730.
Powder flasks or horns are portable containers of wood, horn, metal, leather or ceramic used to hold the priming powder or gunpowder for firearms. They normally terminated in a metal nozzle which also served as a powder measure, closed by a plug or spring cap, and are often highly decorated.
Gunpowder began to be transported in pouches or more rigid containers at about the same date as the introduction of hand-held firearms in the fifteenth century. Such flask might have a military purpose, or be used for hunting. The very decorative pieces were above all a singn of rank, and at the same time aesthetic objects in their own right, and probably never actually functioned as containers for gunpowder.

Physical description

A powder horn, slightly twisted, is decorated with incised and inked decoration of a warrior in classical dress, perhaps Mars, Mercury, Venus on a shell, and a seated female figure holding a crescent moon, perhaps Diana, angels with a baby boy holding a large ring, a tree encircled by a chain, clusters of grapes and decorative foliate designs. The imagery and iconography are unclear, and the incised decoration is weak in design.

Place of Origin

Germany (highly likely, made)


ca. 1700 - ca. 1730 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Horn engraved


Length: 46 cm whole, Diameter: 9.5 cm at large, Height: 43.7 cm horn alone

Object history note

From the Hildburgh bequest in 1956.

Descriptive line

Powder horn, cow horn, with engraved mythological figures, probably German, ca. 1700-1730

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

p. 396
Trusted, Marjorie, Baroque & Later Ivories, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, 2013
Trusted, Marjorie, Baroque & Later Ivories, Victoria & Albert Museum, London, 2013, p. 396, cat. no. 392




Engraving (incising); Inked

Subjects depicted

Angels; Grapes; Tree; Baby; Shell; Chain; Warrior; Female figure; Ring; Moon


Sculpture; Sport


Sculpture Collection

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