Baryton thumbnail 1
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Europe 1600-1815, Room 5, The Friends of the V&A Gallery

This object consists of 2 parts, some of which may be located elsewhere.

Baryton

ca. 1720 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This baryton was made by Jacques Sainprae of Berlin in about 1720. Sainprae was most likely of French Huguenot origin, but this is the only surviving instrument to bear his signature, and nothing else is known about him. However, this example is made to the highest standard, and the exquisitely carved finial represents Orpheus playing a lyre. The ornament is related to the numerous patterns for Laub und Bandelwerk (a late phase of strapwork coupled with floral motifs, the equivalent of Régence ornament in France).

The baryton was a central European instrument that enjoyed a vogue between about 1640 and 1800. The most famous baryton composer was Josef Haydn (1732-1809) who wrote a large number of pieces for his patron, Prince Nikolaus Esterházy (1714-1790), a Hungarian nobleman and an enthusiastic amateur player.


object details
Category
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 2 parts.

  • Baryton
  • Bow (Chordophone Component)
Materials and Techniques
Carved sycamore, planed pine and sycamore, engraved ivory and tortoiseshell veneer
Brief Description
Baryton, carved sycamore, with engraved ivory and tortoiseshell veneer, made by Jacques Sainprae, Berlin, about 1720
Physical Description
'Pine belly with 'comma' soundholes and double purfling. Back of sycamore. The body shape is without lower corners at the waist and with a two-lobed bottom. The finely carved neck, with masks on either side at the root, has a top face veneered with engraved ivory, the whole pierced to form a wavy floral scroll pattern. The partitioned pegbox has the sides carved in relief with acanthus bordering, and the back pierced and carved with fine floral scrolls and strapwork. The finial is a carved figure of Orpheus playing a lyre, with putti below. Of six original pegs for the playing strings, two have been removed and their holes filled. Wrest pins for twenty-five wire sympathetic strings are distributed across both halves of the pegbox. The wires run to an oblique fixed bridge with hitch-rail immediately below. Tailpiece, attached to an asymmetrically placed hook-bar, and fingerboard are decorated with marquetry of engraved ivory on tortoiseshell with figures in classical dress, and with strapwork.'



Anthony Baines, Catalogue of Musical Instruments in the Victoria and Albert Museum - Part II: Non-Keyboard Instruments (London, 1978), pp. 12-13.
Dimensions
  • Total length: 133cm
  • Belly length: 70cm
  • Depth: 14cm
  • Upper bout width: 19cm
  • Lower bout width: 23.5cm
Marks and Inscriptions
Jacques Sainprae a Berlin (Inscribed on a blass plate which forms a nut for sympathetic strings.)
Gallery Label
  • Baryton About 1720 The baryton was a bass instrument with two sets of strings, one played with a bow, the other plucked or allowed to vibrate to create harmonies. Principally a chamber music instrument, it was particularly popular in central Europe. One enthusiast was Prince Nikolaus Esterhazy, who performed baryton works composed by his court musician Joseph Haydn Germany (Berlin) By Jacques Sainpre Sycamore and pine, veneered with ivory and turtle shell Restrung as a cello, possibly in the 19th century(2015)
  • BARYTON German By Jacques Sainprae, Berlin, about 1720 Inscribed Jacques Sainprae a Berlin Pine top and sycamore back, tortoise shell and ivory veneered finger board. The finial at the end of the tuning head represents Orpheus playing a lyre. Four strings (there originally would have been six) over the finger board and twenty-five sympathetic strings. Non-Keyboard Catalogue No.: 2/7 The baryton was most frequently played in Central Europe from about 1640 until about 1800. Joseph Haydn (1732 - 1809) composed a large number of baryton pieces for his patron, Prince Nikolaus Esterhazy, an enthusiastic player of this instrument. The upper strings were tuned like a bass viol (D-G-c-e-a-d') and played with a bow. The sympathetic strings were either played with the left thumb or allowed to vibrate freely. Jacques Sainprae could well have been a Huguenot refugee from France. No other instrument by Sainprae is known to have survived. 1444-1870(pre September 2000)
Object history
There is no existing confirmation of an earlier statement that this baryton belonged to J. J. Quantz (1697-1773), the celebrated flute-master to Frederick the Great.



This instrument was purchased from a Mr W. Chaffers for £75 in July 1875.
Subject depicted
Association
Summary
This baryton was made by Jacques Sainprae of Berlin in about 1720. Sainprae was most likely of French Huguenot origin, but this is the only surviving instrument to bear his signature, and nothing else is known about him. However, this example is made to the highest standard, and the exquisitely carved finial represents Orpheus playing a lyre. The ornament is related to the numerous patterns for Laub und Bandelwerk (a late phase of strapwork coupled with floral motifs, the equivalent of Régence ornament in France).



The baryton was a central European instrument that enjoyed a vogue between about 1640 and 1800. The most famous baryton composer was Josef Haydn (1732-1809) who wrote a large number of pieces for his patron, Prince Nikolaus Esterházy (1714-1790), a Hungarian nobleman and an enthusiastic amateur player.
Bibliographic References
  • Anthony Baines: Catalogue of Musical Instruments in the Victoria and Albert Museum - Part II: Non-keyboard insturments. (London, 1998), . 12 - 13.
  • Peter Thornton, Musical Instruments as Works of Art (London, V & A, 1982 [first ed. 1968]), p.34, fig.38
  • LONDON, Victoria & Albert Museum (intro. By Carole Patey): Musical Instruments at the Victoria & Albert Museum (London, 1978), plate 14, pp.18-9 Baryton `This ungrateful instrument with the additional embarrassment of bass strings at the back of the neck'. Charles Burney, A General History of Music, 1789 `One seems to hear the gamba and the harp at the same time . . . I find myself moved to tears by its sounds . .' Friedrich August Weber, Musikalische Zeitung, 1788 The baryton is a type of bass-viol with 'the additional embarrassment of bass strings' — sometimes as many as forty — running up behind and to the left of the fingerboard. These wire strings are plucked by the player's left thumb from behind, while he fingers the gut strings which lie on top of the fingerboard in the normal way. This is something of a gymnastic feat, but nonetheless creates a magical sound as the unstopped wire strings reverberate in sympathy with the viola da gamba-like sounds of the bowed and stopped gut strings. Because of the difficulties in tuning and playing this instrument it only enjoyed a very brief spell of popularity during the mid-18th century when its most notable devotee was Prince Nicholas Esterhazy, Haydn's patron. Haydn wrote about 175 baryton pieces for his prince to play, and a composition for baryton invariably accompanied a letter asking for a concession from his patron, or was in gratitude for a favour received. The following letter is typical: October 1766 `The most welcome arrival of my Patron's name day causes me not only to offer Your Serenity in dutiful submission six new divertimenti (for baryton) but also to kiss the hem of your robe for graciously presenting us with our new winter clothes. Incidentally, the two oboists report to me that their instruments are deteriorating because of old age and do not stay in pitch any longer . . . May I expect your Serene Highness's Gracious consent to acquire the two urgently needed oboes ? . . I remain your most obedient Haydn' This baryton (Plate 14) bears the name of Jacques Sainprae of Berlin and was made in about 1720. The finial is a magnificently carved figure of Orpheus, who leans back, his cloak flying out behind him, as he makes music on his lyre. The maker has also taken advantage of the very wide neck and peg-box (necessary to accommodate so many strings), and has carved it in elaborate floral scrolls and strap-work patterns. The string cover to the left of the fingerboard is veneered with engraved ivory, and pierced in a swirling scrollwork design. There is also a baryton made by the noted Hamburg instrument maker, Tielke, in the Museum's collection.
Collection
Accession Number
1444-1870

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record createdMay 16, 2001
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