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Dulcimer

  • Place of origin:

    Italy (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1750 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Planed, parcel gilt, carved and joined cypress, painted wood (possibly pine)

  • Museum number:

    4:1&2-1869

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Italian Dulcimers like this example were frequently trapeze-shaped, and most often played in Spain and Italy with quills fitted to leather thimble-like rings placed on finger tips. They usually accompanied string instruments. Although its case may originally have come from another instrument, it is decorated with Apollo and the Muses, a popular theme on harpsichords and other keyboard instruments.

Physical description

"Trapeze-shaped body heavily built with the back of a wood possibly cypress. The soundhole is in the back, and the body has scrolled feet. The hitch rail, on the left side, is carved with a deep channel, the inner edge of which forms a rail for eleven courses of strings attached to hitch pins immediately below the edge. The other fourteen courses are hitched to the outer edge of the channel. ... The wooden case, not originally for this dulcimer, is decorated with a scene of Orpheus and the Muses surrounded by Baroque scrollwork of late seventeenth century character. On the outside is a painted diapper patytern with sprigs, in blue and white. The case is probably Italian". (Baines, Anthony. Catalogue of Musical Imstruments in the Victoria & Albert Museum. Part II: Non-keyboard instruments. London, 1998, p. 73.)

Place of Origin

Italy (made)

Date

ca. 1750 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Planed, parcel gilt, carved and joined cypress, painted wood (possibly pine)

Dimensions

Length: 21 cm shortest string, Length: 69 cm longest string, Width: 83 cm

Object history note

This object was bought with its case from Signor Castellani (presumably of Alessandro Castellani, the great jeweller and collector of Rome) for £20 in 1869. It is thought that the case is not original to the instrument.

Descriptive line

Dulcimer and case, made in Italy, ca. 1750

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

Anthony Baines: Catalogue of Musical Imstruments in the Victoria & Albert Museum. Part II: Non-keyboard instruments, (London, 1998), p. 73.

Labels and date

DULCIMER
Italian (?), about 1750
Recent bridges and strings. The case, not originally made for this dulcimer, is decorated with Apollo and the muses on the inside and a diaper pattern on the outside.

Non-keyboard catalogue: 15/3

The dulcimer was a stringed instrument with the longest side nearest to the player. The strings are divided by treble and bass bridge and struck with wooden hammers to create sound.

4-1869 [pre September 2000]

Materials

Cypress; Paint; Gold leaf; Pine

Techniques

Painting; Gilding; Carving; Planing; Joining

Categories

Musical instruments

Collection

Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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