Bass Viola da Gamba

Description (Brief):

This viola da gamba was made by an unknown maker in London, England, about 1690. It is a Bass Viola da Gamba has a bent-top table of spruce in 5 pieces, two-piece back of maple cut on the quarter, with similar ribs of maple, grafted maple neck and pearwood pegbox and carved lion head, and transparent yellow-orange varnish. This instrument has a reproduction Heinrich Jacobs label.

Description (Brief)

While the body of this viol has been repaired many times, there remain many indications of English origin. The body proportions and arching geometry combined with the width of the upper bouts (31.7cm) quite accurately indicate classical English bridge placement as measured from the bottom block, and is reflected in the location of the soundpost bar of the back; the soundpost bar itself is thin and very wide (10.1cm), common in London workmanship; the ribs are very clearly mitered at the corners.

Description (Brief)

The table is of bent-top construction, and unusual in that the central strip is also made of two pieces. From the central strip, two joined spruce pieces on each side complete the five-piece table construction. Although now missing, the original neck was probably dove-tailed into the top block and secured with two nails that can be seen in remaining nail holes and nail head marks on the interior of the top block. Locating pins on the table at the top block area are offset from the center to allow space for the dovetail inset into the block.

Description (Brief)

The instrument is unusual in having existing fragments of bars in the back above and below the soundpost bar. These strengthening bars are held by vertical lining cleats and covered with linen. Linen is also used rather than linings and corner blocks throughout the viol body.

Description (Brief)

In addition to double purfling and geometric purfling designs on the table and back, the table bears an oval ornamental rosette of maple inlaid into the central spruce strip. Attached to the body is a late 19th-century maple cello neck, terminating in a pearwood cello pegbox and a naive lion head.

Date Made: ca 1690

Location: Currently not on view

Place Made: United Kingdom: England, London

See more items in: Culture and the Arts: Musical Instruments, Music & Musical Instruments


Exhibition Location:

Credit Line: Gift of The University Museum, University of Pennsylvania (through Dr. Robert H. Dyson)

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: MI.65.0595Accession Number: 1991.0406Catalog Number: 65.0595

Object Name: Viola Da Gambaviola da gamba

Physical Description: spruce (overall material)maple (overall material)pearwood (overall material)Measurements: overall: 6 1/4 in x 15 3/16 in x 47 in; 15.875 cm x 38.57625 cm x 119.38 cm


Record Id: nmah_606571

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