Hunting horn

France, early 17th century

ivory, carved

length 66 cm

MPU inv. No. 541

This quality piece of ivory is carved into a representative hunting horn in the manner of French baroque, most likely for the needs of the French court, i.e. the court's prime hunter.

The widest zone begins with a belt, composed of two cords and two ribbons, geometrically ornamented, while the aperture is wavily etched.

In the next, most significant belt, the coat of arms of the French dynasty of Bourbon is displayed, and within four elliptical medallions, forming a cross behind the coat of arms, there are portraits of the first Bourbon king – Henri IV of Navarre (1589–1610) and his predecessors from the dynasty of Valois – François II (1559–1560), Charles IX (1560–1574) and Henri III (1574–1589). This segment of the horn is decorated with baroque, deep-carved floral ornaments.

The most picturesque belt is the third one, displaying a spiral dynamic hunting composition; two hunters, one of them being a nobleman on a horse (possibly the king himself), with five dogs, chasing a deer; both of them are blowing horns, which remind in type of the one kept in the Museum. The rest of the segment is filled with details of rocky landscape, a couple of trees and bushes. The horn ends with a mouthpiece plastically carved into a dog's head.

Analysis of style leads to the conclusion that this representative baroque specimen of artistically processed ivory was most definitely manufactured either during the final years of Henri III's reign, or during the first years of Louis XIII's rule, that is to say, at the beginning of the 17th century.