Guitar

ca. 1630 (made)
Guitar thumbnail 1
Guitar thumbnail 2
+5
images
Not currently on display at the V&A

Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Guitars with five courses of double strings are known as “baroque guitars”. Although unsigned, this example could have been made in Venice in about 1630: the marquetry decoration on the neck is very similar to that on other guitars by Matteo Sellas, and it could well have come from the same workshop. The backs of guitars of this period were frequently made up of narrow ribs, much like contemporary lutes. The music that went with this instrument was either melodious and writen in tablature (i.e. with lines representing the strings and letters or numbers the notes) or noisily strummed and written all’ alfabeto (i.e. in a series of letters of the alphabet representing the different chords), a system invented by Girolamo Montesardo of Florence and first published in 1606.


object details
Category
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Ivory purfling [bordering], inlaid ivory and ebony floral marquetry, planed pine and snakewood
Brief Description
Guitar with marquetry decoration and five courses of double strings, made in Venice, ca. 1630.
Physical Description
"Vaulted back of twenty-five ribs of snakewood (?) with intervening ivory stringing. The sides are constructed to match the back. The pine belly, with double string of ivory purfling [bordering], is decorated with gouged out floral scroll work fuked with some ivory composition. The soundhole is surrounded with a chequered pattern of ivory and ebony inlay. Inside the body is much paper lining, which obscured a label. The slipper neck block is connected to the arched back by a packing piece. The bridge is missing. The back of the neck is inlaid with floral marquetry in ebony and ivory. Metal frets have been added at a later date. The head is for five double courses of strings. The marquetry on the neck of this guitar is so smilar to that on 12/2 (Matteo Sellas Guitar for the Grand Duke Ferdinando of Tuscany, Museum No. 3756 - 1861) that both must at least have come from the same centre."

Anthony Baines, Catalogue of Musical Instruments in the Victoria and Albert Museum - Part II: Non-keyboard insturments, London, 1998, p. 58.
Dimensions
  • Total length: 90cm
  • Upper bout width: 19.5cm
  • Lower bout width: 24.5cm
Object history
This instrument was puchased for £4 - 0 - 0 from Signor Ferrario in June 1871.
Summary
Guitars with five courses of double strings are known as “baroque guitars”. Although unsigned, this example could have been made in Venice in about 1630: the marquetry decoration on the neck is very similar to that on other guitars by Matteo Sellas, and it could well have come from the same workshop. The backs of guitars of this period were frequently made up of narrow ribs, much like contemporary lutes. The music that went with this instrument was either melodious and writen in tablature (i.e. with lines representing the strings and letters or numbers the notes) or noisily strummed and written all’ alfabeto (i.e. in a series of letters of the alphabet representing the different chords), a system invented by Girolamo Montesardo of Florence and first published in 1606.
Bibliographic Reference
Anthony Baines: Catalogue of Musical Instruments in the Victoria and Albert Museum - Part II: Non-keyboard insturments , London, 1998, p. 58.
Collection
Accession Number
390-1871

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record createdDecember 20, 2006
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