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Powder flask

Powder flask

  • Place of origin:

    Flanders (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1580 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Libearts, Eliseus (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Velvet covered wood mounted with gilt embossed iron with etched and gilt mounts

  • Museum number:

    681-1864

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This powder flask was used to carry gunpowder. A measured quantity of powder was drawn off by using the spring-loaded cap on the nozzle.

Firearms became more and more sophisticated during the 16th-century. They required a number of accessories to load and operate them. The main charge, placed in the barrel with the shot, was carried in the powder flask. Smaller priming flasks contained fine-grain powder for priming the pans of wheel-lock firearms. This flask has two suspension rings for attaching to a bandolier, a type of sling worn over the shoulder or around the waist, from which hung the various accessories required for a weapon including spanners for the mechanism, measured charges, powder flasks and priming flasks.

Like the pistols and guns that accompanied them, decorated flasks were costly items. Inlaid firearms and flasks reflected the owners' status and were kept as much for display as for use. Daggers, firearms, gunpowder flasks and stirrups worn with the most expensive clothing projected an image of the fashionable man-at-arms. This Flemish powder flask of around 1580 compares closely with a flask design attributed to Etienne Delaune who worked for the court of Henri II of France. Delaune was a goldsmith whose designs ornamented silver and pewter buffet dishes and were widely adapted for armour and weapons. The most finely crafted items were worn as jewellery.

Physical description

Wooden flask covered with velvet and mounted with gilt and silver gilt embossed iron, with etched and gilt mounts. The ornament composition recalls the two shields in the Vienna Waffensammlung and the castle of Skokloster, Sweden, both of which are attributed to the work of Eliseus Libaerts (fl.1560) an Antwerp goldsmith. The powder flask is not the work of the master-hand that produced the shields. Nor is it ornamented with the fine damasceneing which is a feature of the shields. A gilt copper powder flask of similar design and in much the same style is in the Wallace Colection (No.A1277)

Place of Origin

Flanders (made)

Date

ca. 1580 (made)

Artist/maker

Libearts, Eliseus (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Velvet covered wood mounted with gilt embossed iron with etched and gilt mounts

Dimensions

Height: 29.3 cm, Width: 24.1 cm, Width: 51.5 cm maximum width with tassles at full extent, Depth: 7.5 cm, Weight: 1.120 kg

Object history note

This Flemish powder flask of around 1580 compares closely with a flask design attributed to Etienne Delaune who worked for the court of Henri II of France. Delaune was a goldsmith whose designs ornamented silver and pewter buffet dishes and were widely adapted for armour and weapons.

Historical context note

Firearms became more and more sophisticated during the 16th-century and required a number of accessories to load and operate them. The main charge, placed in the barrel with the shot, was carried in the powder flask. Smaller priming flasks contained fine-grain powder for priming the pans of wheel-lock firearms. This flask has two suspension rings for attaching to a bandolier, a type of sling worn over the shoulder or around the waist, from which hung the various accessories required for a weapon including spanners for the mechanism, measured charges, powder flasks and priming flasks.

Like the pistols and guns that accompanied them, decorated flasks were costly items. Inlaid firearms and flasks reflected the owners' status and were kept as much for display as for use. Daggers, firearms, gunpowder flasks and stirrups worn with the most expensive clothing projected an image of the fashionable man-at-arms. The most finely crafted items were worn as jewellery.

Descriptive line

Wooden powder flask covered with velvet and mounted with gilt and silver gilt embossed iron, with etched and gilt mounts. Flemish, School of Eliseus Libaerts, ca. 1560.

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

J.F. Hayward., European Armour, London, 1965, cat. 24
Patterson, Angus, Fashion and Armour in Renaissance Europe: Proud Lookes and Brave Attire, V&A Publishing, London, 2009, ISBN 9781851775811, p. 88, ill.

Categories

Arms & Armour; Accessories; Tools & Equipment; Fashion; Metalwork

Collection

Metalwork Collection

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