Body length: 34.5 cm.
Body width: upper bout 16.5 cm.
center bout 11.2 cm.
lower bout 19.5 cm.
Rib height: top block: 5.4 cm.
center bout 6.95 cm
bottom block 7/15 cm.
String length: 37.0 cm.
The Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments, 1889
Not on view
This treble viol retains its original neck, fingerboard, and tailpiece, and is a rare example of a professional musician's instrument in unaltered condition. Viols were the most esteemed bowed instruments of the late Renaissance, and only gradually displaced by the violin family in the eighteenth century. Viols feature flat backs, sloping shoulders, and six or seven strings, all features which distinguish them from members of the violin family. All viols are played in an upright position between the knees, or da gamba ("at the leg"), and the bow is held palm upwards. Their sound is quieter and less brilliant than that of the violin family, yet considered more pleasing to the ear by Renaissance humanists. Chamber music for consorts of four to six viols was composed during the Renaissance and Baroque eras, and solo works for the bass viol were played until nearly the end of the 18th century.
Marking: (printed on paper label) JEAN OUVRARD/ McLuthier à Paris,/ 1726
Count Eugene Henri-Joseph de Bricqueville ; Mary Elizabeth Adams Brown
Laurence Libin. A Checklist of Viole da Gamba (Viols). 2. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1989, pg. 7, 11, ill.
William L. Monical. A Checklist of Viole da Gamba (Viols). The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1979, pg. v, viii, ill.
Pleasing Eye and Ear Alike. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. 1971, Vol. XXX, No. 2, pg. 68, ill.
Catalogue of the Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments: Europe. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1904, vol. I, pg. 65, ill.
Catalogue of the Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments of All Nations: I. Europe, Galleries 25 and 26, Central Cases of Galleries 27 and 28. Catalogue., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, vol. 13, pg. 65, 64+, ill.