An Italian Stone Bow, c. 1580

2839 0375m

Item ref: 2839

  • Italy
  • Walnut wood, iron, leather, cord, and bone
  • 89 cm / 35 in x 56 cm / 22 in


Private collection, USA

A definitive early reference to the type of light birding bow here is provided clearly within a portrait, painted circa 1551, by the Italian artist Lorenzo Lotto (c. 1480 - 1556), Portrait of a Crossbow Maker (Master Battista di Rocca Contrada). This work additionally provides early evidence that birding bows identical to this example were made in Italy. These bows did, however, enjoy equal popularity in France during the Renaissance, there referred to as the ‘arbalète-à-jalet’. A poem by Claude Gauchet, ‘Le Plaisir des Champs’, published in 1583 includes a verse dedicated to the use of the stone bow.

Probably the most well-known birding bow of this type is that made for Catherine de Medici, Queen of France (1533-59), preserved in the Musée de l’Armée, Paris (No. L. 115). The type also appears in many of the designs for tapestries commissioned in Florence by Duke Cosimo de Medici.