Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.

Theorbo

Theorbo

  • Place of origin:

    England (possibly, Made)
    France (possibly, Made)

  • Date:

    about 1750 - 1780 (Made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown (Made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    planed ribs of sycamore with ebony and ivory stringing, planed pine soundboard, planed ebony and stained oak veneered fingerboard. mother of pearl, ivory and ebonized wood veneered finial.

  • Museum number:

    231-1882

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

When this instrument was aquired by this museum in 1882, it was described as a theorbino or 'little theorbo'. Important lute-makers, such as Matteo Sellas (fl. 1610-1661) and Wendelin Tieffenbrucker (fl. 1550 - 1611) are known to have made similar instruments, which probably sounded like a treble lute with stirings added in the bass. This example may have been made in England some time between about 1750 and 1780: the finial at the top of the peg box is similar to those found on English guitars made at about this time.

Physical description

'A small instrument with slightly asymmetric body and belly outline. The body, very shallow (7 cm maximum depth), is of nine ribs of sycamore, and carries a fancy 'lace' with inlaid feathered strings of ivory and ebony. Pine belly with an open soundhole, placed high, close to the neck block. The thick bridge is placed well to the bass side of the belly. The neck has a raised fingerboard of black-stained wood, perhaps oak, with ivory strips. It is 6.7 cm wide at the edge of the body and it extends to the belly, where it is surrounded by a fruitwood fillet. Plain heads of complex form, with a square finial decorated with ivory, mother-of-pearl and black stained wood in a formal design. The main pegbox has ten pegs, for two single courses four double, the upper pegbox is for six single strings.' Anthony Baines, Catalogue of Musical Instruments in the Victoria and Albert Museum - Part II: Non-keyboard instruments (London, 1998), p. 33.

Place of Origin

England (possibly, Made)
France (possibly, Made)

Date

about 1750 - 1780 (Made)

Artist/maker

Unknown (Made)

Materials and Techniques

planed ribs of sycamore with ebony and ivory stringing, planed pine soundboard, planed ebony and stained oak veneered fingerboard. mother of pearl, ivory and ebonized wood veneered finial.

Dimensions

Length: 86.5 cm length total, Length: 33 cm length of body, Length: 21 cm length of neck, Width: 23 cm, Depth: 7 cm maximum depth of body

Object history note

This instrument was loaned to the South Kensington Museum in 1874, and bought for £3 in 1882. The owner and lender, Carl Engel (1818-1882), an eminent musicologist from Hanover, described it as a 'theorbino', in his Descriptive Catalogue of the Musical Instruments in the South Kensington Museum, published in 1874 (see references). The South Kensington Museum has been known as the Victoria & Albert Museum since 1899.

Descriptive line

Theorbo, sycamore ribs with ebony and ivory stringing, ebonised oak and ivory fingerboard, possibly English, about 1750 - 1780.

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. 33
Carl Engel: A Descriptive Catalogue of the Musical Instruments in the South Kensington Museum, (London, 1874), p. 325.

Materials

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

Techniques

Planing; Stringing; Veneering

Categories

Musical instruments

Collection

Furniture and Woodwork Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.