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Arpanetta

Arpanetta

  • Place of origin:

    The Netherlands (probably, Made)

  • Date:

    1640 - 1660 (Made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown (Made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    joined, planed and painted pine soundboards, iron wrest pins and hitch pins.

  • Museum number:

    251-1882

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The arpanetta is a free-standing instrument, shaped like an upright harpsichord or clavicytherium. It is fitted with metal strings on both sides and was widely used in Germany and the Netherlands from about 1650 to 1750. The player would place it on a table, pluck the melody with his right hand and strum the accompaniment with his left, producing a cross between the sound of a harpsichord and a harp. This example was probably made in the Netherlands, and one of the soundboards is decorated with floral motifs, in much the same way as harpsichord soundboards, made in Northern Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries.

Physical description

'A large, rather solid instrument, standing on small cross-bar feet. The body has an internal partition and two pine bellies. The right-hand belly has two inset roses and is decorated with a scene of Orpheus and the beasts. The other has one rose and is decorated with strewn flowers reminiscent of the soundboard decoration of Flemish keyboard instruments of the seventeemth century.
The right-hand belly is traversed by thirty-seven double and triple courses of wire strings running up to three hitch rails, one located towards the shorter side of the body, the next beyond, and the third below the second and with its surface closer to the belly. On the other side are twenty-three single and double courses, hitched to a single rail.' Anthony Baines, Catalogue of Musical Instruments in the Victoria and Albert Museum - Part II: Non-keyboard instruments. (London, 1998), pp. 73-74.

Place of Origin

The Netherlands (probably, Made)

Date

1640 - 1660 (Made)

Artist/maker

Unknown (Made)

Materials and Techniques

joined, planed and painted pine soundboards, iron wrest pins and hitch pins.

Dimensions

Height: 122 cm maximum height, Depth: 8 cm

Object history note

This instrument was purchased by the Museum for £10 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.

Descriptive line

Arpanetta, with painted pine soundboards, Flemish, 1640-60

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. 74.

Materials

Pine; Paint; Iron

Techniques

Planing; Joining; Painting

Categories

Musical instruments

Collection

Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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