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Alto viol

Alto viol

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1650 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Plained pine belly; planed sycamore back and sides; planed ebony fingerboard; carved peg box. .

  • Museum number:

    152-1882

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Viols were bowed instruments of differing pitches ranging from treble through alto and tenor to bass, and often played in an ensemble or 'consort of viols'. Musicians would play the smaller, higher-pitched viols (treble and alto) upright resting on their lap. This example is an alto viol, and it is thought to have been converted from a tenor. Consorts of viols were very popular in England from the 1520s until about 1660, when they were gradually superseded by the violin, an instrument much preferred by King Charles II.

Physical description

"Belly of three pieces of pine with simiulated purfling in black paint. Back of two pieces of sycamore. Wooden side-linings. Probably built as a small tenor viol, the body has been cut down at the shoulders to a large treble, or 'alto size. Pegbox with a poorly carved head with long hair, and which black inlaid stringing. Modern tailpiece and fingerboard. Ivory nut (width 4.5 cm). Six ebony pegs." Anthony Baines: Catalogue of Musical Instruments in the Victoria and Albert Museum - Part II: Non-keyboard instruments. (London, 1998), p. 5.

Place of Origin

England (made)

Date

ca. 1650 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Plained pine belly; planed sycamore back and sides; planed ebony fingerboard; carved peg box. .

Marks and inscriptions

Andreas Amati Cremoniensis Anno 1637
Andrea Amati of Cremona, in the year 1637
Writtten on a label in ink. This is thought to have been taken from another instrument.

Dimensions

Length: 74 cm total length, Length: 40.6 cm Length of belly, Depth: 5.3 cm, Length: 39 cm string length, Width: 21 cm Width of upper bout, Width: 26 cm Width of lower bout

Object history note

This formed part of the collection of Carl Engel (1919 - 1882), a leading musicologist who published the Descriptive Catalogue of the Musical Instruments in the South Kensington Museum (London, 1874). Engel's collection was bought by the museum in 1882.
Bought from Carl Engel for £4

Descriptive line

Alto Viol, carved and planed sycamore, ebony and pine. made ca. 1650, England

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

Anthony Baines: Catalogue of Musical Instruments in the Victoria and Albert Museum - Part II: Non-keyboard instruments. (London, 1998), p. 5.

Materials

Ebony; Pine; Sycamore

Techniques

Carving; Planing; Joining; Sawing

Categories

Musical instruments

Collection

Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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