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Theorbo

  • Place of origin:

    London (made)

  • Date:

    1762 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Rauche, Michael (maker)
    Rauche, Michael (retailer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Ebony ribs, with ivory stringing; ebony-veneered neck, fingerboard and pegbox; carved pine belly

  • Museum number:

    9-1871

  • Gallery location:

    On display at the Horniman Museum, London

This instrument is lavishly embellished with expensive materials, and it would most likely have been made for a rich amateur rather than a professional musician. By about 1700 the therobo was similar to the Baroque lute--both were most commonly strung with 13 courses and tuned the same way. However, the pegbox of the theorbo is nearly alligned with the neck, whereas that of the lute is bent sharply back. This instrument was most often used for accompaniment to singing during the 18th century, and variants continued to be made in Germany and Sweden up until about 1830.

This theorbo is attributed to Michael Rauche of Chandos Street, London, who was active during the 1760s and 1770s. He is thought to have been German, and it has recently been suggested that he was more likely to have been a retailer than a maker.

Physical description

Body of twenty-three ivory ribs with ebony stringing between. Belly of pine with inset triple rose carved in wood. The neck is veneered with ebony, the lower section bearing the maker's name, the upper two sections having panels containing musical trophies and flowers, all executed in ivory applied in relief. Fingerboard veneered with ebony, with nine ivory frets. Also three frets set in the belly. The pegboxes are of ebony trimmed with ivory, the main with fourteen pegs, the upper with ten for five double courses.

Place of Origin

London (made)

Date

1762 (made)

Artist/maker

Rauche, Michael (maker)
Rauche, Michael (retailer)

Materials and Techniques

Ebony ribs, with ivory stringing; ebony-veneered neck, fingerboard and pegbox; carved pine belly

Marks and inscriptions

Rauche/ in/ Chandos/ Street/ London/ 1762
1) Makers's mark 2) Signature; English; Cursive; On the back of the neck; Inlay; ivory; 1762

Dimensions

Length: 127 cm total, Length: 63.5 cm body, Width: 37 cm maximum, Depth: 26 cm

Descriptive line

English, Michael Rauche, 1762

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

London, Victoria & Albert Museum: Catalogue of Musical Instruments in the Victoria & Albert Museum. Part II, Anthony Baines: Non-keyboard instruments (London, 1998), p. 32

Labels and date

THEORBO
By Michael Rauche (possibly German, ), London, 1762
Inscribed Rauche in Chandos Street, London 1762
Ivory ribs with ebony stringing, ebony venerred neck and fingerboard.

Non-keyboard catalogue No.: 7/7

Michael Rauche was probably of German origin. An English Guitar of his,
dated 1770, is at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.

In the 18th century, the theorbo, or 'German theorbo-lute', was particularly
fashionable in Germany and England, attracting composers like J. S. Bach
and S. L. Weiss and amateurs like the painter Thomas Gainsborough.

9-1871 [pre September 2000]

Materials

Ivory; Pine; Ebony

Techniques

Carving; Stringing; Veneering

Subjects depicted

Cartouche; Rocaille; Tree-stump; Sphinxes

Categories

Musical instruments

Production Type

Unique

Collection

Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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