Not currently on display at the V&A

Chitarrone

1626 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This instrument has a small body, more typical of lutes, and is thought to have been converted into a chitarrone, its long-necked version at a later date. The fingerboard is lavishly decorated with plaques of mother-of-pearl, rather than ivory, the material more often used for this purpose in the 17th century. Rather than intended to be played, it is more likely that it was converted into a decorative item from a bygone age to hang on a wall or be used as an artist's prop.


object details
Category
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Engraved mother of pearl plaques, planed and carved pine, planed yew with ivory stringing
Brief Description
Chitarrone, made in Italy, possibly in 1626
Physical Description
'The date is engraved on a mother-of-pearl heart inset in the belly. Small body of forty-four ribs of yew with ivory stringing between and which a finely sting-decorated lace. The pine belly, carved with a rose, has a heart-shaped mother-of-pearl inset and ivory purfling. The fingerboard has panels of engraved mother-of-pearl surrounded by strips of ebony and ivory, The back of the neck has narrow longitudinal bands of ivory and ebony. The head has similar deocration but slightly coarser, and a section of the neck has been used for facing the upper pegbox. The main pegbox has twelve strings and the upper eight, the pegs being modern, of rosewood set with mother-of-pearl shirt buttons'. (Baines, Anthony. Catalogue of Musical Instruments in the Victoria and Albert Museum: Part II: Non-keyboard instruments. London, 1998).
Dimensions
  • Total length: 170cm
  • Belly length: 55cm
  • Maximum width: 34cm
Marks and Inscriptions
'1626 (/)' (The date is engraved on a mother-of-pearl heart inset in the belly.)
Gallery Label
CHITARRONE Italian; possibly 1626 Neck of ebony and ribs of yew both banded with ivory. The fingerboard has engraved ivory panels. Catalogue No.: 7/14 The authenticity of the label bearing the date 1626 has been doubted. It has been suggested that the instrument was converted from a lute into a chitarrone at a later date. 7755-1862(pre September 2000)
Object history
This instrument was bought for £10 in 1862. Its previous provenance remains unknown.
Production
Possibly made in 1626. A date resembling '1626' is engraved on a mother of pearl plaque inset into the belly or soundboard of the lute. Anthony Baines thinks the instrument was converted into a chitarrone "in the eighteenth century", but such an instrument would have fallen out of fashion amongst musicians by about 1700 if not earlier. Collecting curiosities associated with the late 16th and early 17th centuries for decoration is more characteristic of antiquarians of the 1820s and later.
Summary
This instrument has a small body, more typical of lutes, and is thought to have been converted into a chitarrone, its long-necked version at a later date. The fingerboard is lavishly decorated with plaques of mother-of-pearl, rather than ivory, the material more often used for this purpose in the 17th century. Rather than intended to be played, it is more likely that it was converted into a decorative item from a bygone age to hang on a wall or be used as an artist's prop.
Bibliographic Reference
Baines, Anthony. Catalogue of Musical Instruments in the Victoria and Albert Museum: Part II: Non-keyboard instruments. London, 1998, p.35.
Collection
Accession Number
7755-1862

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record createdMay 16, 2001
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