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Bass viol

Bass viol

  • Place of origin:

    Oxford (Made)

  • Date:

    1688 (Made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Baker, John (Made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Planed sycamore neck, side and back; planed ebony fingerboard; planed and purfled (bordered) ivory soundboard, carved ivory nut; carved sycamore scrolled peg box.

  • Museum number:

    171-1882

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This bass viol is the only viol known to have been made by John Baker of Oxford. Baker may have been the son of a more famous Oxford-based viol maker, William Baker (ca 1648–1685). This instrument would originally have had six strings and formed part of an ensemble of differently pitched viols known as a 'consort of viols'. It was later fitted with a 'cello's neck, peg box and only four tuning pegs, and so it presumably ended up being played like a 'cello.

Physical description

"Belly of five pieces of pine, with double purfling [bordering] and a central device similar to those on the Meares viol (1/3). Back of three pieces of sycamore, double purfled with decorative loops. The body linings are of canvas. A later neck (secured from inside the body by a large wood screw) and scroll head in crude violoncello style. Plain modern tailpiece attached to hook-bar, and ebony fingerboard inlaid with light coloured wood. Ivory nut (width 4 cm). Four Ebony pegs" Anthony Baines, Catalogue of Musical Instruments in the Victoria and Albert Museum - Part II: Non-keyboard instruments (London, 1998), p. 4.

Place of Origin

Oxford (Made)

Date

1688 (Made)

Artist/maker

Baker, John (Made)

Materials and Techniques

Planed sycamore neck, side and back; planed ebony fingerboard; planed and purfled (bordered) ivory soundboard, carved ivory nut; carved sycamore scrolled peg box.

Marks and inscriptions

Jno. Baker/ Oxon 1688
Label on the inside of the instrument in ink

Dimensions

Length: 108 cm total, Length: 68.5 cm body, Depth: 12.2 cm, Width: 32 cm Upper bout, Width: 39 cm Lower bout

Object history note

This instrument was formerly part of the collections of Carl Engel and was bought by the Museum for £6.

Descriptive line

Bass viol, sycamore body, subsequently converted into a 'cello, John Baker, Oxford, English, 1688.

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. 4.

Materials

Pine; Ebony; Sycamore; Ivory

Techniques

Planing; Carving; Joining; Purfling

Categories

Musical instruments

Collection

Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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