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Virginal

Virginal

  • Place of origin:

    Milan (Made)

  • Date:

    1555 (Made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Rossi, Annibale (Made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Planed, joined and carved cypress case, planed cypress soundboard with carved fretwork rosette, ivory naturals, ebony sharps faced with horn and ivory stringing, ivory studs on top moulding.

  • Museum number:

    156-1869

  • Gallery location:

    On display at the Horniman Museum, London

Annibale dei Rossi (active, 1542 to 1595) was Milan's leading keyboard instrument builder of his day. Although not as flamboyant as his 'jewelled spinet' (Museum no. 809-1869), this instrument is beautifully carved with musical trophies and statuettes holding musical instruments. It once belonged to Rawdon Brown (1806 - 1885), an English expatriate living in Venice, who was noted for his fine collections and for his reorganization of the city's archives.

Physical description

"This spinet is pentagonal in shape and is of cypress wood. The inner face of each wall and the surrounds of the keyboard are finely carved in relief with putti among floral scrollwork. A carved wooden rose of geometrical pattern is let into the soundboard. Two small figures carved in the round and holding respectively a Lyra da braccio [early type of violin] and a lute flank each side of the keyboard. Compass: C-f3 [fifty notes], bass short octave. The naturals are of ivory and decorated with arcaded fronts. The accidentals are of ebony faced with horn and inlaid with ivory and ebony stringing." - Raymond Russell: Victoria and Albert Museum Catalogue of Musical Instruments. Volume I. Keyboard Instruments. (London, 1968), pp. 31 - 32.

Place of Origin

Milan (Made)

Date

1555 (Made)

Artist/maker

Rossi, Annibale (Made)

Materials and Techniques

Planed, joined and carved cypress case, planed cypress soundboard with carved fretwork rosette, ivory naturals, ebony sharps faced with horn and ivory stringing, ivory studs on top moulding.

Marks and inscriptions

Opus Anibalis Mediolanensis MDLV
The work of Annibale of Milan, 1555
The instrument is engraved on the nameboard.

Dimensions

Length: 152.5 cm maximum, Width: 51 cm maximum, Height: 20 cm, Weight: 11 kg whole

Object history note

The South Kensington bought this instrument for £150 from Rawdon Brown (1806 - 1885) in 1869. Brown was an expatriate Englishman, living in Venice, and reorganised the state archives there.

Descriptive line

Polygonal spinet virginals, cypress case and soundboard, Annibale dei Rossi, Milan, Italian, 1555.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Raymond Russell: Victoria and Albert Museum Catalogue of Musical Instruments. Volume I. Keyboard Instruments. (London, 1968), pp. 30 - 31.
Howard Schott: Catalogue of Musical Instruments in the Victoria and Albert Museum - Part I: Keyboard instruments. (London, 1998), pp. 21 - 23.

Labels and date

SPINET, Italian (Milan),by Annibale dei Rossi, 1555, inscribed Opus Anibalis Mediolensis MDLV. Naturals covered with ivory and sharps ebony, cypress wood body with arabesque painting on the inside. At each end of the keyboard is a plaque decorated with musical trophies and an allegorical figure of the Italian Mannerist Style, the one on the left holding a lyra da braccio and the one on the right a lute. The instrument's range is fifty notes, C/E short octave to f3. Evidence beneath the keys suggests this instrument was at one time a Claviorganum, a combination of organ and spinet/harpsichord.

Museum No.: 156-1869
Keyboard Catalogue No.: 3

Annibale Rossi, whose famous jewelled spinet is exhibited in Gallery 1a, flourished from about 1540 until 1580. He was credited with introducing the polygonal spinet by P.Morigi. (La nobilità di Milano, 1595). [pre September 2000]

Materials

Cypress; Ivory; Ebony; Horn

Techniques

Joining; Planing; Carving

Categories

Musical instruments

Collection

Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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