Opening a discussion of Baroque and Rococo carving motifs, if anyone is interested.

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We have very few examples of rifles from the early to mid-1700s long rifles, and the rifles made now repeat the carving patterns of those few. Yet if one steps back to look at the baroque/rococo period, there was a great diversity of motifs in decorative carvings, especially in the examples of German Baroque in the Jaeger rifle. Modern flintlock long rifles have severely limited their palette and potential due to limited existing examples when they could be looking at a broader range of motifs. I know the temptation is to reproduce what already was, but by adding more baroque/rococo motifs, the new rifles could be a lot more exciting and individual in style.

Curious about everyone's thoughts on this topic.
 
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Pete G

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Carving can be either good or bad depending on the artist. If you study the art and produce something “in the style of” you can do well. OTOH, if you just take off with something that just suits your fancy, results can be OK, but are usually quite atrocious.
 

Flintandsteel

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Fortunately, or unfortunately, as builders, we are influenced by extant examples of American guns. We try to emulate the guns we are aware of, and can either see personally, or in photos.
The era you speak of is the era most of us build. The “Golden Age” of American lonrifles. Baroque carving would be totally out of place on a rifle of thos era.
Don’t mean to be critical at all, just the way I see it.
 

billraby

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Baroque and rococo are from an earlier period than the American rifles. I don't think it would be out of place, but it would be rather outdated. It would be like wearing clothes from the 1950 today. Of course there really are a few people that wear 1950s style clothes today, but they get funny looks. By late 18th, early 19th century, America had developed its own artistic styles. My opinion is that baroque and rococo would be much more suited to European guns than American. It is entirely plausible to have a Pennsylvania made rifle with a medieval Chinese motif, but rather unlikely.
 
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Wel
Baroque and rococo are from an earlier period than the American rifles. I don't think it would be out of place, but it would be rather outdated. It would be like wearing clothes from the 1950 today. Of course there really are a few people that wear 1950s style clothes today, but they get funny looks. By late 18th, early 19th century, America had developed its own artistic styles. My opinion is that baroque and rococo would be much more suited to European guns than American. It is entirely plausible to have a Pennsylvania made rifle with a medieval Chinese motif, but rather unlikely.

Baroque and Rococo styles were dominant in Europe decorative arts from the mid 1600s until the French Revolution. It's peak in Europe was @ 1760 and it did not peak in areas of the Americas until the 1830s. So
Baroque art was a style well into the 1730s and if you count rococo well into 1760s and only fully ended with the French revolution, so yes it would have influenced German gunsmiths coming to the USA. Many of the Jaeger gunsmiths of Germany who practiced and trained in the German baroque style would have carried those traditions to America. The motifs which have survived on the remaining rifles are actually baroque and in the "golden age" were American interpretations of rococo. So your china comment missed my point, was snarky and condescending.
 
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Hi,
You cite baroque and rococo styles. What is your understanding of those styles? Describe the differences and key features.

dave

Going back and pulling may history of art books from College I would say that the style is more sensuous than the decorative arts preceding it. On German Jaeger rifles one sees oak leaves much like seen on saddles now as well as motif that are vines, flowers and stylized nature themes. My question is one of wondering if the German gunsmiths trained in baroque and rococo styles would have possibly used those elements on rifles we no longer have access to.
 
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Fortunately, or unfortunately, as builders, we are influenced by extant examples of American guns. We try to emulate the guns we are aware of, and can either see personally, or in photos.
The era you speak of is the era most of us build. The “Golden Age” of American lonrifles. Baroque carving would be totally out of place on a rifle of thos era.
Don’t mean to be critical at all, just the way I see it.

I agree. We only have these few examples and I am wondering what was on the rifles that did not survive. When one looks at baroque and rococo motifs they were much more varied than simple vectors and acanthus leaves. Oak leaves, faces, florals, oak leaves etc were used on furniture and other decorative arts.
 
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Below is a common baroque pattern from the 1700s, as common as vectors and acanthus. Images of jaegers from the Early 1700s show these and more. Just wondering why we generally only see vectors and acanthus on surviving long rifles.
 

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In the decorative arts, the style employs plentiful and intricate ornamentation. The departure from Renaissance classicism has its own ways in each country. But a general feature is that everywhere the starting point is the ornamental elements introduced by the Renaissance. The classical repertoire is crowded, dense, overlapping, loaded, in order to provoke shock effects. New motifs introduced by Baroque are: the cartouche, trophies and weapons, baskets of fruit or flowers, and others, made in marquetry, stucco, or carved.[2]
 
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It is an academic question, but I am wondering why German /American gun makers would have totally abandoned the decorative carving styles they learned in Germany. Colonial America tried to keep up with the styles of Europe.

I am asking a question and not giving an answer.

There are people here who have studied this for a long time and may know. Although I have a BA and an MA in History of art this is an area) other than the Baroque itself) I am not familiar with, so I pose the question to those building contemporary copies. Dave- I am more than familiar with Baroque are but not with Baroque s guns and America guns from the same period. I assumed that some here would have answers to this. Question.
 
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Hmm, wondering if American gun makers, like cabinet makers stepped out of the full Baroque and rococo style early and reflected the Georgian. I assumed that the baroque style was fundamental to American guns because I read it in this forum but interestingly Chippendale established a specific "English Style" and many of the existing guns also have these Chippendale elements. I also read on here someone comment that long rifle embellishment was more akin to "folk art" in colonial America. If one was building one at home or carving after purchase, I could see that but carving stocks professionally would also be done by people trained in cabinetry, I think.

I am thinking out loud here so feel free to discuss this just be thoughtful and not sophomoric. Obviously, the period would not apply a Chinese dragon. There are motif elements however coming from various directions here. England was after all a world power and trying to establish itself as distinct form the European continent.

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GEORGE III
CHIPPENDALE STYLE

Roughly referring to the period of the 1750’s and 1760’s, the Chippendale style emerged as the dominant force in Georgian furniture design, following the publishing of the first edition of Thomas Chippendale’s The Gentleman and Cabinet Maker’s Directory in 1754. Generally speaking, there were 3 categories of designs by Chippendale: the gothic, the rococo and chinoiserie. The Chippendale styles were lighter than the heavy Kentian and French rococo styles and they therefore appealed to a wider elite and mercantile class of people. Thomas Chippendale’s Directory ensured that a considerable audience had access to his designs, which facilitated the adoption of Chippendale style furniture within homes across the whole of the UK.

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Thomas Chippendale, The Gentleman and Cabinet Maker’s Directory, 1754
english georgian decorative motif styles - Search (bing.com)
 
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Baroque, being related to Arabesque prizes symmetry in the natural forms (very thoroughly planned, meticulously created to be exact) Rococo tended to be an offshoot of Baroque and sought to emphasize the beauty in natural asymmetry (similar subjects and elements, just done in more of a free-flowing, natural design where tasteful "errors" aren't really seen as errors). In carvings, there is a big grey area in which genre one might place a particular piece, as there is a lot of overlap in time and place and even the same craftsman. Furnishings and paintings are a different matter, as one tends to see a color pallete shift, in addition to certain stylistic choices.

Some Baroque is Arabesque, Some Baroque is Rococo, all Rococo is Baroque, but not all Baroque is Rococo.

Modern repro's are limited because the people building them choose to be limited to copying a couple of surviving American examples, rather than creating their own. Anything carved in Europe could have been done in the Americas, if the customer/owner wanted it. As also mentioned, much of the architecture and decoration of American guns ventures into the folk-art realm, not dissimilar to European guns of the late 1400's and 1500's. My thought is that as the European gunmaker's industry became more refined and "standardized"/condensed in the late 1600's and into the 1700's, the more localized folk art went away, and makers adopted forms that would be more appealing to a broader customer base (not dissimilar to the reduction of distinct localized beer styles/ingredients in the mid-late 1800's when "big" breweries started looking to make bottling and export a notable part of their business). Eastern Europe, Africa, and Asian gunmakers seemed to retain more of the folk-artsy forms and decoration; but gunmaking, as far as I know, tended to remain more localized in those places for longer (like it was in the America's)
 
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Baroque, being related to Arabesque prizes symmetry in the natural forms (very thoroughly planned, meticulously created to be exact) Rococo tended to be an offshoot of Baroque and sought to emphasize the beauty in natural asymmetry (similar subjects and elements, just done in more of a free-flowing, natural design where tasteful "errors" aren't really seen as errors). In carvings, there is a big grey area in which genre one might place a particular piece, as there is a lot of overlap in time and place and even the same craftsman. Furnishings and paintings are a different matter, as one tends to see a color pallete shift, in addition to certain stylistic choices.

Some Baroque is Arabesque, Some Baroque is Rococo, all Rococo is Baroque, but not all Baroque is Rococo.

Modern repro's are limited because the people building them choose to be limited to copying a couple of surviving American examples, rather than creating their own. Anything carved in Europe could have been done in the Americas, if the customer/owner wanted it. As also mentioned, much of the architecture and decoration of American guns ventures into the folk-art realm, not dissimilar to European guns of the late 1400's and 1500's. My thought is that as the European gunmaker's industry became more refined and "standardized"/condensed in the late 1600's and into the 1700's, the more localized folk art went away, and makers adopted forms that would be more appealing to a broader customer base (not dissimilar to the reduction of distinct localized beer styles/ingredients in the mid-late 1800's when "big" breweries started looking to make bottling and export a notable part of their business). Eastern Europe, Africa, and Asian gunmakers seemed to retain more of the folk-artsy forms and decoration; but gunmaking, as far as I know, tended to remain more localized in those places for longer (like it was in the America's)

Thank you for your thoughtful answer. When I was training in history of art they tended to see baroque as a reaction to Renaissance formalism. My concentration area was Islamic epigraphy and your observations about arabesque as a source for decorative inspiration we're rejected by the baroque specialists. I still think there was the influence you cite. My thoughts also agee will that contemporary builders take the conservative route of imitation of what survived even if they are not making historical copies. I look at German gun builders and see more "naturalistic" motifs including realistic wildlife on the cheek sides. I don't know if those were done in America but I would think handmade individual high end guns might have those.

Again thanks for your thoughtful reply.
 
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Hi Walaw717,
I asked my question only to make sure we are on the same page about those styles. In other words, that we can speak the same language. It was not meant as criticism or discouragement. Would you not agree that "mannerism" was the antidote to Renaissance fixation with perfection and classic Greek and Roman formalism?

dave
 
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Hi Walaw717,
I asked my question only to make sure we are on the same page about those styles. In other words, that we can speak the same language. It was not meant as criticism or discouragement. Would you not agree that "mannerism" was the antidote to Renaissance fixation with perfection and classic Greek and Roman formalism?

dave

I didn't take what you said as a criticism Dave.. it was a great question. Researching more into my own question made me pull some knowledge I have not used in 40 years. Yes baroque was an answer to mannerism and allows greater sensuality even though still highly structured. Researching this morning raised a question for me re: Georgian style response to Continental Baroque and excess. I think the development of American cabinetry and carving of rifle stocks was more complicated than we will ever know. Too many examples have been lost. I do think it would be interesting for contemporary makers to stretch their legs within the stylistic conventions. Thinking of this as an art for and not just reproduction form. Mainly just my nature to understand what I am dealing with artistically. Done well these rifles of this period are beautiful works of art, even in their plain form.
 

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