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Arch Cittern

1766 (Made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

The cittern is a wire-strung instrument, usually strummed with a plectrum. This example is fitted with extra strings in the bass, a practice that began in Italy in the late 16th century. Although the cittern dwindled in popularity throughout much of Europe during the eighteenth century, it was still used fairly widely in Germany and Switzerland. Andreas Ernst Kram was based in Nuremberg and his surviving instruments date from between 1760 and 1783.


object details
Category
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Planed sycamore back and sides, carved and planed sycamore neck, carved and planed pine soundboard, brass frets.
Brief Description
Sycamore back and sides and pine soundboard, by Andreas Ernst Kram, German (Nuremberg), 1766.
Physical Description
"Flat back of a single piece of sycamore, and sides, narrowing towards the base, of the same. Belly of two pieces of pine, with intricate sunk rose of carved wood and parchment. The thick neck is of full width and carries a scalloped fingerboard with eighteen brass frets. The theorbo-like upper pegbox is surmounted with a carved lion's head with red-painted tongue, probably taken from another instrument. The main pegbox is for four double courses of wire, and the upper for nine single basses, these last running down to long brass hooks attached to the base of the body.' - Anthony Baines:Catalogue of Musical Instruments in the Victoria and Albert Museum - Part II: Non-keyboard instruments (London, 1998), pp. 46-47.
Dimensions
  • Length total length: 78cm
  • Maximum string length length: 43cm
  • Minimum string length length: 25cm
  • Width: 28cm
  • Depth at neck depth: 7.5cm
  • Depth at base depth: 4.4cm
Measurements taken from Anthony Baines:Catalogue of Musical Instruments in the Victoria and Albert Museum - Part II: Non-keyboard instruments. (London, 1998), pp. 46-47.
Marks and Inscriptions
Andreas Ernst Kram/ in Nürnberg/ anno 1766 (printed on the label on the inside of the instrument.)
Object history
This instrument was purchased by the Museum for £6 in 1882. It had been part of the collections of Carl Engel (1818-1882), an eminent musicologist from Hanover, who published the Descriptive Catalogue of the Musical Instruments in the South Kensington Museum in 1874. The South Kensington Museum has been known as the Victoria & Albert Museum since 1899.
Summary
The cittern is a wire-strung instrument, usually strummed with a plectrum. This example is fitted with extra strings in the bass, a practice that began in Italy in the late 16th century. Although the cittern dwindled in popularity throughout much of Europe during the eighteenth century, it was still used fairly widely in Germany and Switzerland. Andreas Ernst Kram was based in Nuremberg and his surviving instruments date from between 1760 and 1783.
Bibliographic Reference
Anthony Baines: Catalogue of Musical Instruments in the Victoria and Albert Museum - Part II: Non-keyboard instruments. (London, 1998), pp. 46-47.
Collection
Accession Number
215-1882

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record createdJune 24, 2009
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