Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.

Bass viol

Bass viol

  • Place of origin:

    London (made)

  • Date:

    1677 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Meares, Richard (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Planed ebony fingerboard with ivory stringing; planed and purfled [bordered] sycamore back; planed and purfled pine soundboard, inlaid with an unidentified wood; carved sycamore finial.

  • Museum number:

    170-1882

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Richard Meares (1647–1725) was one of the most important viol makers and music publishers in London in his lifetime. He supplied at least two instruments to James Brydges, 1st Duke of Chandos (1647–1744), who employed an orchestra of musicians who doubled up as servants. Meares also published works by George Frederick Handel (1685–1759). At the time Meares made this instrument, viols ranging from treble to bass were often played, by both professional and amateur musicians, in an ensemble known as 'a consort of viols'.

Physical description

'Belly of four pieces of pine, double purfled [bordered]. A formal floral device is inlaid and engraved in the centre. The back is a later replacement, made of two pieces of sycamore decorated with double lines of purfling with a fancy knot-pattern in the centre. The sides appear to be contemporary with the back. Thin wooden sidelining to the back, none to the belly. Neck with a spliced repair. Pegbox with a carved woman's head with her hear tied back with a bow, and with scrollwork carved in relief on the back. Tailpiece, attached to the hook-bar, and fingerboard are of ebony with ivory stringing. Six boxwood pegs. The neck is still partly fretted with gut.' Anthony Baines: Catalogue of Musical Instruments in the Victoria and Albert Museum - Part II: Non-keyboard instruments. (London, 1998), pp. 3 - 4.

Place of Origin

London (made)

Date

1677 (made)

Artist/maker

Meares, Richard (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Planed ebony fingerboard with ivory stringing; planed and purfled [bordered] sycamore back; planed and purfled pine soundboard, inlaid with an unidentified wood; carved sycamore finial.

Marks and inscriptions

Richard Meares, without / Bishopsgate, near Sir / Paul Pinders.[sic] London / Fecit 1677
Richard Meares ... made [this] in 1677.
Printed label. The last two figures of the date written in ink.

Dimensions

Length: 121 cm total, Length: 68.5 cm body, Depth: 12.2 cm, Width: 32 cm upper bout, Width: 39 cm lower bout

Object history note

This object formed part of the collections of Carl Engel and was valued at £6 - 10 - 00, when acquired by the South Kensington Museum in 1882.

Historical context note

Comparable instruments
Bass viol by Richard Meares, c1680; Royal College of Music, London RCM0936

Descriptive line

English bass viol, pine belly, sycamore back and sides, ebony fingerboard with ivory stringing, by Richard Meares, 1677.

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), pp. 3 - 4.
John Milnes (ed.): The British Violin - the catalogue of the 1998 exhibition. 400 years of violin & bow making in the British Isles'. (Oxford, BVMA, 1998), pp. 14 - 17.

Labels and date

BASS VIOL
By Richard Meares, London, 1677
Label inscribed Richard Meares, without / Bishopsgate, near Sir Paul Pinders.[sic] London/ Fecit 1677
Body of pine

Non-Keyboard Catalogue No.: 1/3

Meares's surviving instruments span forty years; an example in Lisbon dates from 1637. This instrument is one of the best preserved extant bass viols. The ornate tuning box, surmounted with a female head, and the somewhat conservative geometrical patterns on the back are characteristic of instruments of the period. On both the Baker and Meares viols, an inlaid scrolled pattern takes the place of the rosette.

170-1882 [pre September 2000]

Materials

Sycamore; Pine; Ebony; Ivory

Techniques

Carving; Planing; Purfling; Stringing; Inlay

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.