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Viola D'amore

ca.1719 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

The viola d'amore was particularly popular throughout Italy and Central Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries, and was noted for its sweet tone. Seven gut strings were played by the bow, while seven 'sympathetic' strings placed underneath the fingerboard responded to the resulting vibrations. This instrument bears the coat of arms of Franz Anton Graf von Harrach, Prince Bishop of Salzburg between 1709 and 1727. German and Austrian noblemen had their own private orchestras, and this instrument would probably have been used by one of his musicians.


object details
Category
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Carved, gilt and planed pine, with ebony finger board. Sides of maple.
Brief Description
Viola d'amore, Festooned model, bearing the coat of arms of Franz Anton Graf von Harrach, Prince Bishop of Salzburg between 1709 and 1727, made in Austria ca.1719
Physical Description
'Festooned model. Belly of two pieces of pine, with 'flame' soundholes and a small carved and gilt rose showing the arms of Franz Anton Graf von Harrach, Prince-Bishop of Salzburg from 1709 to 1727. Two-piece back with applied decoration. Pegbox with a winged cupid's head, gilt. The Ebony tailpiece is shaped obliquely and attached to an ivory hook-bar. Ebony fingerboard with shaped end. Seven stained pehs for the gut playing strings. The eight wire sympathetic strings are attached to hitch pins above the nut and are tuned by wrest pins in the bottom block of the body, accessible though sliding traps, one on each side of the hook-bar.' - Anthony Baines: Catalogue of Musical Instruments in the Victoria and Albert Museum - Part II: Non-keyboard instruments. (London, 1998), p. 10.
Dimensions
  • Total length length: 78.5cm
  • Length of belly length: 42.6cm
  • String length length: 39.5cm
  • Depth: 5.2cm
  • Upper bout width: 21cm
  • Lower bout width: 26cm
Dimensions taken from Catalogue of Musical Instruments in the Victoria and Albert Museum, part I, keyboard instruments by Howard Schott. part II, non-keyboard instruments by Anthony Baines.
Marks and Inscriptions
Coat of Arms of Franz Anton Graf Von Harrach, Prince Bishop of Salzburg between 1709 and 1727.
Gallery Label
VIOLA D'AMORE Austrian; about 1720 Spruce top, sycamore neck, back and sides, and ebony finger board, with coat of arms of Franz Anton Graf von Harrach, Prince Bishop of Salzburg from 1709 to 1727. Non-Keyboard Catalogue No.: 2/1 It has been suggested that this instrument was made by Andreas Ferdinand Mayer, luthier to the Prince Bishops, from 1721 til about 1750. During the seventeenth and eighteenth century, the viola d'amore was a popular throughout Italy and Central Europe, and noted for its sweet tone. The gut strings were played by the bow and the wire of "sympathetic" strings were activated by the vibration. 722-1878(pre September 2000)
Object history
This instrument was given to F.X.Lidel by the Prince Bishop of Salzburg, in 1776 and acquired by this museum for £10 - 10 - 0 from his descendent, Josef Lidel in 1878.It was exhibited at the Special Exhibition of Musical Instruments at the Southy Kensington Museum in June 1878.
Production
According to Carl Englel (Carl Engel: A Descriptive Catalogue of the Musical Instruments in the South Kensington Museum, (London, 1874), p 360, this instrument was made in 1719. No inscription has been found to support this.
Summary
The viola d'amore was particularly popular throughout Italy and Central Europe during the 17th and 18th centuries, and was noted for its sweet tone. Seven gut strings were played by the bow, while seven 'sympathetic' strings placed underneath the fingerboard responded to the resulting vibrations. This instrument bears the coat of arms of Franz Anton Graf von Harrach, Prince Bishop of Salzburg between 1709 and 1727. German and Austrian noblemen had their own private orchestras, and this instrument would probably have been used by one of his musicians.

Bibliographic References
  • Carl Engel: A Descriptive Catalogue of the Musical Instruments in the South Kensington Museum, (London, 1874), p. 360
  • Anthony Baines: Catalogue of Musical Instruments in the Victoria and Albert Museum - Part II: Non-keyboard instruments. (London, 1998), p. 10.
Collection
Accession Number
722-1878

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record createdMay 16, 2001
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