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Arch-cittern

Arch-cittern

  • Place of origin:

    Paris (Made)

  • Date:

    1780 - 1800 (Made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Renault, Sébastien (Made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

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

  • Museum number:

    207-1882

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Citterns were usually wire-strung instruments, and those with extra unstopped strings in the bass were known as 'arch-citterns'. However, this example was fitted with gut strings and presumably played with fingers. Made by Sébastien Renault of Paris (active c.1765-1804), this elegant instrument 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 and sides of sycamore, decorated with ebony stringing lines. Belly, painted a cream colour with barber's-pole purfling of ebony and mother-of-pearl. The same border surrounds the soundhole, which is filled with a rough rose, perhaps not original. Concave sides, narrowing towards the neck. The black-painted neck has two star-shaped mother-of-pearl position marks inlaid among the bass edge. The ebony fingerboard has seventeen brass frets and three small ivory position dots. Ebony pegs with ivory studs. The main pegbox has eleven, 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), p. 53.

Place of Origin

Paris (Made)

Date

1780 - 1800 (Made)

Artist/maker

Renault, Sébastien (Made)

Materials and Techniques

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

Marks and inscriptions

SB Renault à Paris
S.B.Renault in Paris.
Stamped on the back of the instrument.

Dimensions

Length: 110.5 cm total length, Length: 40 cm length of belly, Length: 81 cm maximum string length, Length: 49 cm minimum string length, Depth: 11.5 cm mean depth, Width: 31.5 cm

Object history note

This instrument formed part of the collections of Carl Engel (1818-1882) and was purchased by this museum for £5.

Descriptive line

Arch-cittern, sycamore back and sides, with ebony and mother of pearl decoration, S.Renault, Paris, French, 1780-1800.

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. 53.

Materials

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

Techniques

Stringing; Purfling; Joining; Planing; Turning; Painting; Carving

Categories

Musical instruments

Collection

Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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