This is the most elegant example of three similar, extant small stringed instruments that date from the early fifteenth century. Originally the instrument would have been strung with five strings, but whether it was played with a bow or plucked with a plectrum or fingers, remains unclear. The carved imagery relates to courtly romance and probably alludes to the rewards of fidelity in love. Cupid, armed with bow and arrow, hovers over the couple, a young man represented as falconer (the falcon denotes loyalty and trust) and a maiden with unbound hair who clasps his arm. A dog, likewise suggesting loyalty, sits at their feet. The rich iconography of the instrument unites art and music in the service of romance.
Irwin Untermyer , New York ; E. de Miller-Aichholz , Vienna ; Albert Figdor , Vienna ; Oscar Bondy , Vienna
Jayson Kerr Dobney, Bradley Strauchen-Scherer. Musical Instruments: Highlights of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. First Printing. @2015 by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. New York, 2015, pp. 46-47, ill.
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Musical Instruments of the Western World. McGraw Hill Book Company. New York, Toronto, 1967, pg. 48, 51, fig. 4, ill.