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Arch-cittern

Arch-cittern

  • Place of origin:

    France (Made)

  • Date:

    1775 - 1785 (Made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown (Made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Planed and joined sycamore back and sides, with ebony stringing; planed, joined pine soundboard, purfled (bordered) with ebony and mother-of-pearl; turned ebony tuning pegs with ivory studs, plained ebony fingerboard with brass frets.

  • Museum number:

    211-1882

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Citterns were usually wire-strung instruments, like this example, and those with extra unstopped strings in the bass were known as 'arch-citterns'. This elegant instrument was most likely made in Paris in about 1780, and was probably intended for drawing rooms and salons, whereas the German and Swiss versions of the arch-cittern were more often used for playing folk music.

Physical description

"Back of two pieces of sycamore. Belly with a paper rose. The purfling resembles that on 11/12 [arch-cittern by Sébastien Renaut, Museum no.: 207-1882: i.e. "barber's pole purfling of ebony and mother of pearl"] and the sides of the body are singularly concave. Ebony fingerboard with seventeen frets. Pegboxes, number of strings, and oblique upper nut similar to 11/12 [i.e. "The main pegbox has eleven [tuning pegs], for four double courses and three single. The upper pegbox has five for five single basses, and has an oblique nut."] - Anthony Baines: Catalogue of Musical Instruments in the Victoria and Albert Museum - Part II: Non-keyboard instruments (London, 1998), pp. 53-54.

Place of Origin

France (Made)

Date

1775 - 1785 (Made)

Artist/maker

Unknown (Made)

Materials and Techniques

Planed and joined sycamore back and sides, with ebony stringing; planed, joined pine soundboard, purfled (bordered) with ebony and mother-of-pearl; turned ebony tuning pegs with ivory studs, plained ebony fingerboard with brass frets.

Dimensions

Length: 115 cm total length, Length: 43 cm length of belly, Length: 88 cm maximum string length, Width: 33 cm, Depth: 11 cm, Length: 49 cm minimum string length

Object history note

This instrument was part of the collections of Carl Engel (1818-1882) and was bought by this Museum for £3.

Descriptive line

Arch-cittern, sycamore back and side, ebony and mother-of-pearl decoration, French, 1775-1795.

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), pp. 53-54.

Production Note

'Clearly the work of one of the Parisian luthiers of the period, possibly Renault' - Anthony Baines: Catalogue of Musical Instruments in the Victoria and Albert Museum - Part II: Non-keyboard instruments. (London, 1998), p. 54.

Materials

Sycamore; Ebony; Pine; Paper; Mother of pearl; Ivory; Brass

Techniques

Planing; Joining; Purfling; Turning; Carving

Categories

Musical instruments

Collection

Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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