Galapagos: Artist Depicts Famous Archipelago’s Unique Creatures On Krieghoff K-80/S
By John Geiger, Managing Editor
Originally published in the 2023 September/October issue of Safari Magazine.
Krieghoff has been revealing a “gun of the year” annually since the 1990s. Each has been unique and exquisite, like this year’s “Buffalo Jump” which depicts Native Americans hunting bison, or the 2019 “Lincoln,” engraved by well-known Master Engraver Henrick Frühauf.
Another that continues to be talked about is the enchanting “Galapagos,” a 2020 work of sea and land creatures that come alive on a K-80/S. The embellishment celebrates the biodiversity of the famous Pacific island chain that a young Charles Darwin put on the map in 1835. It was here, 600 miles off Ecuador, that the traveling English medical student noticed unique species that had adapted to their remote environment. The relationship between the islands, sea and its creatures sparked his theory of natural selection and eventually his renowned book “The Origin Of The Species.”
Those same creatures, as well as the arid landscape and its relationship to the sea, also inspired the engraver of the gun. Ferlach, Austria-trained engraver Chantal Schaschl’s work is characterized by deep engraving and a copious amount of gold that directs the eye around the work of art — top, base and sideplates. The receiver is fully covered with her interpretation of the birds, mammals, reptiles and sea life of the Galapagos.
On the left sideplate, she chose to put the island’s unique reptiles, such as marine iguanas and the famous giant Galapagos tortoise. A Galapagos hawk, with talons and beak in gold, soars over prickly pear cactus. The receiver’s right side focuses on the archipelago’s coastal creatures, including the Galapagos penguin, blue-footed booby and great frigatebird, plus sentinel sea lions on the beach.
The base of the receiver flows with undersea creatures, such as spotted eagle rays and a leatherback turtle gliding over coral reef.
Of high interest, too, is Schaschl’s decision to carve a Galapagos racer, one of three snakes found on the islands. It starts on top of the receiver, ahead of the top lever and the tail continues up onto the lever itself. When the lever is moved to open the barrel, the snake also moves, as if wriggling over the hot rocks of the equatorial islands. Touches like this breathe life into the otherwise still-life engravings. It creates a unique, delightful work that shows the engraver’s personality.