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Music in Art XXX/12 (2005)

LUTES, ARCHLUTES, THEORBOES IN ICONOGRAPHY*


MARIAGRAZIA CARLONE
Universit degli Studi di Pavia, Cremona

In the last century, the gradual revival of interest in early music stimulated the production of an increasing variety of historically inspired instruments. Lute players, for example, found that their vast repertoire
calls for numerous different and specific varieties of lute, and that it was not appropriate to utilize a generic
instrument to cover the entire repertoire. Modern lute makers had to find out how to construct them, but this
task was made difficult by the lack of a continuous lute-making tradition and by the rarity of original instruments in their original state.1 Iconographical sources can be very helpful, and they may even be the only surviving evidence of how certain kinds of lutes looked like.2
Indeed, iconography is extremely rich in images of lutes. Usually we recognize them easily, but we may
sometimes feel at a loss when, from the end of the sixteenth century onwards, we find instruments that, to
be sure, belong to the lute family, but that we do not know exactly how to name: archlutes, theorboes,
chitarroni, or else theorbo lutes or simply lutes. Even worse, we may have heard of terms like French
lute, English lute, German theorbo, but we are not sure what these terms mean specifically. Furthermore, we find that modern scholars often disagree about the meaning of these terms. And when we read the
original sources we might easily loose ourselves in an even more intricate forest, because different kinds of
lutes were sometimes given the same name and, vice versa, different names could be used for the same instrument, depending on individual preferences or geographical context, or even by mistake or mere chance. No
wonder that this chaotic situation generates confusion. In dealing with these images, two very different
approaches might be followed: (1) simplifying: calling all of them lute without distinctions; or (2) considering all possible names and trying to determine which one fits with the image we are dealing with and if
this is not possible, inventing a name (at worst: fantasy-lute).
It is not necessary to follow either of these two extremes. It seems possible, indeed, with a reasonable
amount of compromise, to distinguish between a few main types of lutes that can be easily recognized in iconographical sources, while still leaving open the possibility of giving more precise definitions when possible.
What follows, then, is a proposal for an iconographical classification of the main types of European lutes
from the sixteenth century to the lutes demise in the late eighteenth century.3 It is worth noting here that the
tuning of the strings, one of the most important distinguishing characteristics of lute types, cannot usually
be verified in iconographical sources. Thus, we must try to base our classification of lutes on other features.
This is not an attempt at a detailed exposition of the lutes European evolution; it will be taken into consideration only insofar as it pertains to the proposed iconographic classification.
The European lute retained the main features of the Arab lute (d = wood) for many centuries after
it was introduced from the Arab world mainly through Spain and Sicily.4 The bowl of this instrument was
probably carved from a single piece of wood, and there was little or no visible separation between the body
and the neck. During the fifteenth century, a different type of bowl construction began to be preferred: a bowl
made with assembled ribs, with the neck clearly distinguished from the body.5 (At the same time, lutenists

2005 Research Center for Music Iconography CUNY

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Mariagrazia Carlone, Lutes, Archlutes, Theorboes in Iconography

1. Profiles of lutes: a) pear-shaped (as in lutes by Laux Maler)


and b) rounded (as in multi-ribbed lutes by the Tieffenbrucker
family and Wendelio Venere).

gradually stopped using the plectrum, transforming the lute into a polyphonic instrument,6 and they also
started inventing various kinds of lute tablature systems, which in turn guaranteed the survival of part of
the lutes repertoire).7 It is from this point on that a true European lute can be distinguished from the Arab
(and Eastern) variety, giving rise to the first, main fork in the lutes evolutionary tree:
A. Lutes without a clear distinction between neck and body (bowl probably carved from a single block)
B. Lutes with a sharp distinction between neck and body (bowl assembled with ribs)
The sixteenth-century lute was invariably of this second type. In its simplest form, what we may call the
ordinary lute, its principal characteristics, apart from its tuning, are as follows: A neck well distinguished
from the body; a body made of a variable number of ribs; a pegbox typically bent backwards, with a single
nut and tuning pegs on the sides of the pegbox; a single bridge, which also acts as the string-holder, glued
to the soundboard; strings of uniform lengths, arranged in courses (usually two strings per course except for
the first, or highest, course, which was often single); gut frets tied along the neck; one or more sound holes,
usually in the form of a carved rose.
The ordinary lute was used in Europe between the fifteenth and the beginning of the eighteenth century. During this period it underwent a number of significant transformations. Some models were widely
diffused and can be easily recognized in iconographical sources. The so-called pear-shaped lute, which can
be seen, for instance, in paintings by Giovanni Bellini, was typical of instruments made during the first half
of the sixteenth century by several generations of German lute makers who came mostly from Fssen and
settled in Venezia, Padova, and Bologna. One of the most renowned of these was Laux Maler,8 who worked
in Bologna and whose fame survived his death for more than a hundred years.9 When Maler died in 1552,
an inventory of his workshop listed no less than 998 completed lutes and 127 others still under construction,
plus over 1000 precarved soudboards.10 Such an enormous production of lutes (certainly not typical only of
this particular workshop)11 clearly testifies to the wide diffusion of the lute well beyond the restricted circle
of professionals and noble dilettanti. Lutes made by Laux Maler and his followers were treasured by musicians and collectors throughout Europe.12 These Bolognese lutes had a long pear shape, with slender
shoulders and a few large ribs (usually seven or nine); they originally had six or seven courses of strings [figs.
1a & 2].
Another very successful style of lute construction was developed towards the end of the sixteenth
century, again by German lute makers working especially in Venice and Padua (such as the Tieffenbrucker

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Music in Art XXX/12 (2005)

2. Paolo and Imero Sacca, detail of the wood inlay of the choir in Vercelli, Basilica di SantAndrea
(ca. 1511). Back of a lute with 9 ribs. Photograph by the author.

family and Wendelio Venere). This model had a larger sounboard, rounded shoulders and a deeper body
made of many thin ribs (more than 15 and up to 51, often made of shaded yew), and a slightly flattened cross
section13 [figs. 1b & 3].
This new style of construction was favored above all in Italy, whereas the older pear-shaped lutes from
Bologna were still appreciated throughout the seventeenth century north of the Alps, and were often transformed to suit the changing requirements of musicians. This accounts for the fact that, while a certain number
of lutes by Maler still survive, none of them are in their original state. Alessandro Piccinini (15661638), a lute
composer and virtuoso from Bologna, witnessed the extraordinary hunt for Malers lutes by French lutenists
who went to Bologna expressly to buy those old instruments and offered to pay anything that was asked
for.14 The especially clear and uniform sound of Bolognese lutes was considered perfect for the new French
musical style. However, the original necks were widened and lengthened, because ten courses were now
needed.15 In addition, a treble rider was often added as part of the transformation process [fig. 6a]. This
novelty consisted of a small peg-holder for a single peg, attached to the treble side of the pegbox and used
to host the top course, or chanterelle. It may have been invented as a solution to the problem of adding extra
pegs to an already existing pegbox, and it had the added advantage of reducing the sharp angle of the string
at the nut. This may have helped lengthen the playing life of the thinnest, most fragile string of the lute. Such
a rider can be seen, for instance, on the ten-course lute depicted by Nicholas Tournier (15901639) in Le concert,16 and in many other paintings from that time on.
Towards the middle of the seventeenth century, an eleventh course was added to the lute. Again, since
players still preferred to use old and precious instruments such as those originally made in Italy over a
century earlier, new solutions had to be found to the problem of adding more strings to an already established model. Thus, one of the two strings of the second course was omitted and that peg, along with the peg
that was freed by adding the treble rider, was used for the additional course. Also, the nut was sometimes
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Mariagrazia Carlone, Lutes, Archlutes, Theorboes in Iconography

3. Evaristo Baschenis (16171677), Still life with musical instruments. Oil on canvas, 75 108 cm. Bergamo, Accademia Carrara, no. 1206. In the center is shown a back of a multi-ribbed lute.

elongated over the bass side of the fingerboard to carry the strings of the eleventh course: in this way the eleventh course remained off the fingerboard, and the fitting of a new neck was rendered unnecessary. This detail is only rarely distinguishable in iconographical sources. As an example, we may cite the beautiful portrait
of Charles Mouton by Francois de Troy (16451730), painted in 1690.17 The eleven-course lute was used
especially in France and in the Germanic countries for about eighty years, to around 1720 and sometimes
even later. It may be compared to the Italian six-course lute of the sixteenth century for its long life-span and
wide diffusion and the importance of its musical repertoire. Despite its new features and added courses,
however, basically it still conforms to our definition of the ordinary lute. The same cannot be said for a
variety of new instruments, which, in the meantime, were developed from the ordinary lute, always in
response to new musical needs and fashions.
Lutes had always been built in different sizes, as documented by iconographical sources, historical inventories, and surviving instruments. During the sixteenth century, consorts of lutes from the tiny soprano
lute to the double bass were commonly built and collected.18 The 1566 inventory of the collection of Raymund Fugger, a rich Augsburg banker, lists no less than 141 lutes of seven different sizes, most of which
were grouped in consorts.19 Bass and double bass lutes posed an acoustic problem, however. Wound strings
(i.e. gut strings covered with metal) did not exist until about 1650, and were probably never used on the lute
even after their invention.20 Bass lute strings were made with gut, and if the string length was short, they had
to be very thick, and their sound was poor in harmonics and dull. This problem arose whenever low strings
were added to smaller lutes in order to widen their musical extension. According to Vincenzo Galilei, those
strings under the bass, which nowadays are seen to be used by everybody playing the lute [...], God knows
if and how they are heard [...] because their sound is feeble.21
For this reason, lutenists and lute makers tried to find ways to lengthen the lower strings, so that they
could be thinner and produce a better sound. In 1595 Alessandro Piccinini designed in Padova an experimen78

Music in Art XXX/12 (2005)

4. Gonzales Coques (16151684), Hearing. Antwerp,


Koninklijk Museum voor Schone Kunsten. Gaultier
lute. Courtesy of the Museum.

tal lute, which had a second bridge for the long bass strings, and consequently the bodys length was almost
doubled.22 Unfortunately, it was a complete failure, because the bass strings had to be plucked towards the
middle of their length, while in order to obtain a good sound from a string it must be played near the bridge.
For this reason, only one prototype of Piccinninis long lute was built.23 Nevertheless, it contained in nuce
an important new concept that was destined to undergo a much more fruitful development: the bass strings
of this lute were set on a short neck extension with a separate nut which remained at a slight distance from
the principal nut of the fingerboard.
A new fork in the lutes evolutionary tree may thus be defined:
B.1. ordinary lutes with one nut
B.2. lutes with two or more nuts
There were various technical solutions to the problem of how and where to place the other nuts, but
fundamentally they are two, each with a number of subvariants:
B.2.1. Lutes with the principal pegbox still bent backward (with or without treble rider), and with
some kind of extension for the extra nuts
B.2.2. Lutes with the principal pegbox parallel, or nearly parallel, to the neck, plus an extension for
the extra nuts
The group B.2.1. comprises a variety of lutes with some kind of extension added either to the neck or to
the principal pegbox, which however did not change significantly its characteristic backward angle. Among
a true explosion of ingenuous solutions, some worked so well that they became fixed features of new kinds
of lutes of great importance which were widely used and for which there is a substantial repertoire. Among
these are the following:

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Mariagrazia Carlone, Lutes, Archlutes, Theorboes in Iconography

5. Jan Miense Molenaer (16101668), The Duet. Seattle Art Museum, inv.
no. 61.162. Detail showing Molenaer lute. Courtesy of the Museum.

B.2.1.a. The Weiss lute [fig. 6b]. A bass rider, with a nut, glued to the main pegbox, was the simple
and elegant solution typical of the Baroque lute used in Germany between circa 1717/19 and circa
1840. It was tuned in D minor and had thirteen courses. The musical repertoire for this kind of lute
is extremely rich and of the highest quality, including works by Sylvius Leopold Weiss and Johann
Sebastian Bach. One might call this simply the thirteen-course German lute, but it would be tempting to follow the lead of Luise Gottshed, writing in 1760, who claims that it was the invention of the
great Weiss himself, and christen it the Weiss lute.24
B.2.1.b. The Gaultier lute [fig. 4]. Apart from the usual bent-back pegbox, there was an upward
extension on the bass side that sometimes assumed the aspect of a second pegbox, holding no less
than four nuts at different distances.25 Almost invariably, these lutes have twelve courses. Accordingly to some seventeenth-century sources, they were invented by Jacques Gaultier (also spelled
Gautier) around 1630.26 After a period in the Low Countries, he settled in England for the rest of
his life and was therefore also called the English Gaultier.27 It is, of course, possible that Jacques
Gaultier did not invent this model but simply used it and contributed to its diffusion in England;
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Music in Art XXX/12 (2005)

6. Pegboxes with riders: a) one rider for the first string, b) two riders: 1) for the
first string, 2) for bass strings. Courtesy of the Lute Society of America.

in fact, some sources call it the French lute while others call it an English lute.28 Actually, it
seems that this type of lute was not used much in France itself, but it was widely used not only in
England but also in the Low Countries: most iconographical sources are paintings by Flemish and
Dutch artists, such as Gerard ter Borch (16171681) who depicted it many times and in different
sizes. Instead of a geographic label, though, which could be confusing, perhaps a technical name
would be better (two-headed lute with many nuts, or twelve-course lute perhaps, since twelvecourse lutes were almost always built in this model); alternatively, we might call it the Gaultier
lute in honor of its supposed inventor.
B.2.1.c. The Molenaer lute [fig. 5]. The fingerboard is extended on the bass side of the instrument
and ends in a second bent-back pegbox similar to the normal one. It has two nuts, one for each
pegbox. This peculiar lute is often depicted in iconographical sources from the beginning of the
seventeenth century, and found in particular in works by the Dutch painter Jan Miense Molenaer
(ca. 16101668). A surviving exemplar is in Copenhagen.29 When detecting one of them in an
iconographical source, we could describe it as a lute with two bent-back pegboxes. A charming,
though provisional, name for this kind of lute might be taken from the painter who portrayed it best:
the Molenaer lute.30
B.2.1.d. The Bruegel lute. The normal pegbox of this lute is still bent backward, but it leans back
just a little and then curls forward to house further pegs and carry another nut,31 so that it is Ushaped. It is found in some Flemish paintings of the early seventeenth century, such as Bruegels
Hearing.32 We might label these instruments as lutes with U-shaped pegbox, or, even better, the
Bruegel lute. I am not aware of any surviving examples of this model.
B.2.1.e. The Saraceni lute. This is somewhat similar to the Molenaer lute described above, except
that the extended fingerboard ends in a scrolled pegbox such as those found on bowed string instruments. It is depicted in Carlo Saracenis Saint Cecilia and the Angel.33
The second major classification of lutes with more than one nut (B.2.2.) can be characterized as follows:
the principal pegbox is no longer bent back at a sharp angle, as with all of the lutes discussed so far, and it
carries an extension which connects to a second or even a third pegbox, each with a separate nut. The extension itself is simply a connection between the groups of pegs, and its length varies considerably from one
instrument type to another. The additional nuts are distributed at different distances; sometimes, in a way
that recalls the U-shaped pegbox seen before (B.2.1.b), the upper end of the extension curves forward, with
a nut at its end. Among a variety of extensions, we can distinguish at least three main variants, all of which
are present in iconographical sources: (a) long; (b) short; and (c) swan-neck.
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Mariagrazia Carlone, Lutes, Archlutes, Theorboes in Iconography

7. Robert Benard, Lutherie: Instruments de diffrentes sortes, in:


Denis Diderot Jean Le Rond dAlembert, Enciclopdie des arts mecaniques (Paris, 1772), plance IV. Copper engraving. Detail showing
chitarrone (in the middle).

B.2.2.a. Archlute and theorbo/chitarrone34 with a long extension [fig. 7]. Archlutes and theorbos are
often quite difficult to tell apart in iconographical sources, since the fundamental difference between
the two instruments is in their tuning. The invention of the theorbo and its peculiar reentrant tuning
at the end of the sixteenth century came about because of the desire to raise the general pitch of ex
tremely large instruments for use in song accompaniment.35A large bass lute tuned in C, for example,
could be raised to A if the two highest courses were lowered an octave. Thus, for the purposes of
iconography, the larger the apparent string length, the more likely it is a theorbo rather than an
archlute, which retained the normal non-reentrant Renaissance lute tuning.36 However, while instruments with a long string length on the fingerboard were, by necessity, theorbos rather than archlutes,
the same cannot be said for instruments with a short string length, which could be either archlutes
or theorbos.37 Characteristic of both of these instruments in the early seventeenth century was the
disposition of the stringing: they usually had a total of fourteen courses, with six double courses on
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8. Profile of a swan-neck lute with three nuts. Graphic elaboration made by the author from a picture of an
instrument by Jonas Elg, dated 1729, in Musikhistoriska Museet, Stockholm.

the finger board (with the top course optionally single) and eight single strings on the long bass
extension. Because the bass strings were so long (often on surviving instruments over 140 cm), it was
not necessary to strengthen their sound with the second, octave string, as on the lute. Later archlutes
and theorbos were sometimes provided with a slightly different disposition of the strings, with seven
or, rarely, eight fretted courses, and consequently fewer bass strings. There is some evidence to
suggest that theorbos, but not archlutes, could have been strung with single strings on the fingerboard as well.38 Furthermore, some sources show instruments that had more (up to 19), or fewer,
than the standard fourteen courses. Archlutes were also sometimes known as theorboed lutes, or liuti
attiorbati, although that term seems somewhat contradictory, even to writers of the period.39
B.2.2.b. Archlutes and theorboes with a short extension. Because the bass strings were shorter, they
often needed to be reinforced with the second octave string, so short extension instruments almost
always have double courses for all of the bass courses, as well as the courses on the fingerboard
except the top string. Instruments with a short extension were usually archlutes rather than theorbos,
although short-extension theorbos are also mentioned in the sources.
B.2.2.c. Swan-neck lutes [fig. 8]. A new double, or sometimes triple, pegbox with an ornately curved design that has been likened to the neck of a swan, was introduced in Germany around 1732.40
According to Luise Gottsched, this development of the lute was also the invention of the great
lutenist Sylvius Leopold Weiss.41 These instruments are sometimes called theorboes, but in fact
they are tuned in D minor and should properly be considered lutes. Nevertheless, these instruments
could be quite large, and it is probable that the largest ones were intended more for accompaniment
than for solo playing. In this case, Baron tells us that, in order to preserve the D-minor tuning, the
top string (f) was eliminated.42
In conclusion, when an image of a lute-type instrument is found in iconographical sources and there are
few other indications as to its identity, one can attempt to identify it with greater precision by looking at certain external characteristics, which can help to collocate it within the lutes evolutionary tree. The following
table, which can, by no means, be considered complete or exhaustive, might be considered a starting point
and provide a basis for further discussion and improvement. It is offered to help distinguish elemental characteristics of lute-family instruments, when the more significant elements, such as tuning, are unavailable
in an image. It goes without saying that any image of a musical instrument must be evaluated on the basis
of numerous criteria, most of which are outside the scope of this article.
A. Lutes without a clear distinction between neck and body (bowl probably carved from a single
block) [includes Arab and medieval lutes]
B. Lutes with a sharp distinction between neck and body (bowl assembled with ribs)
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Mariagrazia Carlone, Lutes, Archlutes, Theorboes in Iconography


B.1. ordinary lute: one nut, one pegbox (usually bent backward with a sharp angle) [includes:
pear-shaped lutes, multi-ribbed lutes, lutes with or without treble rider, eleven courses lutes
with prolonged nut]
B. 2. lute with two or more nuts
B.2.1. with principal pegbox bent backward and some kind of extension [includes: (a)
Weiss German Baroque lute (thirteen courses, treble rider and bass rider, two nuts); (b)
twelve courses Gautier lutes with two heads (five nuts); (c) Molenaer lutes with two
bent back pegboxes (two nuts); (d) Bruegel lutes with U-shaped pegbox (two nuts); (e)
Saraceni lute, and other possible variants]
B.2.2. with principal pegbox parallel to the neck and extension [includes: archlutes and
theorboes /chitarroni with (a) long or (b) short extensions (two or more nuts), and (c)
swan-neck lutes (two or three nuts)]
Translated by Paul Beier

NOTES
* This article is a revised and enlarged version of a paper
read at the symposium Images da msica: Uma herana cultural
/Images of Music: A Cultural Heritage, organized by the Centro
de Estudos de Sociologia e Esttica Musical (CESEM) of the Universidade Nova de Lisboa and the Fondazione Calouste Gulbenkian, 2224 May 2003. I wish to thank all of those who have seen
and commented on this study, in particular the lutenist Paul Beier
and the lute maker Michael Lowe. Responsibility for any error or
imprecision is, of course, entirely my own.
1
See Michael W. Prynne, Some Remarks on Lute Forgeries, The Lute Society Journal III (1961), 20; and Michael Saffle,
Lutes and Related Instruments in Eight Important European and
American Collections, Journal of the Lute Society of America VIII
(1975), 26, 32.
2
Naturally, it is always necessary to be very cautious when
dealing with iconographical sources, since they may not be realistic when showing musical instruments. In this article it will be
assumed that the reliability of the images considered, as far as it
concerns organological details, has been previously taken in consideration by the iconographer.
3
Arab, Oriental, and European lutes before the sixteenth
century have been excluded here. For European medieval lutes,
see in particular Crawford Young, Lute, Gittern, & Citole, A
Performers Guide to Medieval Music. Ed. by Ross W. Duffin
(Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2000); and Douglas Alton
Smith, A History of the Lute from Antiquity to the Renaissance
(Lexington, Va.: Lute Society of America, 2002), 7-61.
4
D.A. Smith, ibid., 16-26 (with further bibliographical references) and, in particular, Carlos Gonzales, Le luth en Espagne
du XIe au XIVe sicle, Luths et luthistes en Occident: Actes du colloque, 1315 mai 1998 (Paris: Cit de la Musique, 1999), 249-270; and
David Gramit, The Music Paintings of the Cappella Palatina in
Palermo, Imago musicae II (1985), 6-17.
5
This model already existed before the fifteenth century. For
instance, in a fourteenth-century Arab treatise, an `d with a clear
distinction between body and neck is carefully drawn (Oxford,
Bodleian Library, MS Marsh 521, ca. 133334, fol. 157v. D. Gramit,
ibid., fig. 8). This drawing, however, does not show the back of
the instrument, so we cannot affirm with certainty whether the
back was made of separate ribs instead of being carved from a

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single piece of wood.


6
The practice of playing polyphony on one lute by using the
fingers instead of a plectrum sounded new to Johannes Tinctoris
in the early 1480s (for an English translation of Tinctoris comment see D.A. Smith, A History, 48). According to Young, op. cit.,
however, Polyphonic playing can, in fact, be achieved with a
combination of plectrum and fingers, or with plectrum alone [...]
the most reasonable assumption is that for the fifteenth century
and possibly for the last quarter of the fourteenth, plectrum
polyphony, normally on a fretted lute, was possible and was
practiced. It is not clear on what evidence Young bases his assertion, apart from his personal experience as a performer. Iconography shows lute players using their fingers from about the last
quarter of the fifteenth century.
7
The first surviving examples of lute tablatures were written in Germany around 147075 (Tischler), although a fourteenthcentury French manuscript might have an early example of lute
tablature (Page). Apparently, something similar to a tablature had
already been conceived for the #d in the eight century. Cf. Hans
Tischler, The Earliest Lute Tablature?, Journal of the American
Musicological Society XXVII/1 (spring 1974), 100-103; Christopher
Page, A French Lute Tablature in the 14th Century? Early Music
IX/4 (October 1981), 488-492; and A.S. Smith, A History, 11.
8
See, above all, Michael W. Prynne, The Old Bologna LuteMakers, The Lute Society Journal V (1963); also Friedmann Hellwig, Lute Construction in the Renaissance and the Baroque,
Galpin Society Journal XXVII (1974), 22-23 and fig. 1; and for a
more recent survey D.A. Smith, A History, 62-69 (with updated
bibliography).
9
Thomas Mace wrote in 1676: know that an old lute is
better than a new one [...] the chief name we most esteem, is Laux
Maller, [...] Two of which Lutes I have seen (pittiful Old, Batterd,
Crackd Things) valued at 100 . a piece. Mr. Gootier, the Famous
Lutenist in His Time, shewd me One of Them, which the King
paid 100 . for. Thomas Mace, Musicks Monuments (London,
1676; reprint Paris: Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique,
1966), 48.
10
Prynne calculated that Malers workshop could over the
years have produced something of the order of 4000 lutes. M.W.
Prynne, The Old Bologna, 19-20.

Music in Art XXX/12 (2005)


11
Elsewhere, inventories with only slightly smaller volumes
confirm the huge extent of lute production. To cite the example of
a lute maker whose renown hardly compares with that of Laux
Maler, the workshop of Jean Desmoulins contained 14 theoros 249
lutes and 59 guitars at his death in 1648. Peter Lay, French Music
for Solo Theorbo: An Introduction, Lute News 40 (December
1996), 3-7; quoting from Catherine Massip, Facteurs dinstruments et matres danser parisiens au XVIIe sicle, Instrumentistes et luthiers parisiens XVIIeXIXe sicles (Paris: Dlgation lAction Artistique de la Ville de Paris, 1988), 17-34.
12
See T. Mace, op. cit.
13
See for instance, F. Hellwig, Lute Construction; Robert
Lundberg, In Tune With the Universe: The Physics and Metaphysics of Galileos Lute, Music and Science in the Age of Galileo.
Ed. by Victor Coelho (Dordrecht; Boston; London: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1992), 219-221 and figure 3; and D.A. Smith, A
History, 69-78 (with related bibliography). Smith on p. 70 noted
that a precedent of this model may be seen in a drawing by Albrecht Drer, Angel with Lute (1497) (Berlin Kupferstichkabinett);
it must be said, however, that in this drawing, although the outline of the soundboard is actually very similar to those built toward the end of the sixteenth century, the bowl is not visible, so
that we cannot infer the number of the ribs. On the Tieffenbrucker
family, see Giulio M. Ongaro, The Tieffenbruckers and the
Business of Lute-Making in Sixteenth-Century Venice, Galpin
Society Journal XLIV (1991), 45-54.
14
Gi molti anni sono che in Bologna, si facevano liuti di
bont molto eccelenti fosse lesser fatti di forma lunga similitudine di pera, fosse lhaver le coste larghe, che luno fa dolce, e
laltro armonioso; basta che, per la lor bont erano molto stimati,
& in particolare da i francesi, i quali son venuti posta a Bologna,
per portarne in Francia pagandoli tutto quello che era loro
domandato, talche pochissimi hora se ne trovano. Alessandro
Piccinini, A gli studiosi del Liuto, Intavolatura di liuto, et di chitarrone. Libro primo (Bologna, 1623), 5.
15
all the Lutes which I can remember used eight frets [...]
some few yeeres after, by the French nation, the neckes of the
Lutes were lengthened, and thereby increased two frets more, so
as all those Lutes, which are most received and disired, are of
tenne frets. (John Dowland, Other Necessary Observations
belonging to the LUTE, Robert Dowland, Varietie of Lute-Lessons
(London, 1610; facs. edition London: Schott 1958), 15.
16
Paris, Muse du Louvre, RF 1938-102.
17
Paris, Muse du Louvre, RF 2469.
18
See R. Lundberg, In Tune, 222-226 and plate 2.
19
See Richard Schaal, Die Musikinstrumenten-Sammlung
von Raimund Fugger d.J. Archiv fr Musikwissenschaft XXI (1964),
212-216; and Douglas Alton Smith, The Musical Instrument
Inventory of Raymond Fugger, Galpin Society Journal XXXIII
(1980), 36-44. The Fugger collection comprised kleines Leitle
(Leuttlin), Diskntle, Discant, Camer Lautten, Tenor,
Bass, Contrabass (grosse Lautten). Seven lute sizes are also
listed by Michael Praetorius, Sintagma Musicum. II: De organographia (Wolfenbttel, 1618): kleine Octavlaut, klein Discantlaut, Discant Laut, Recht Chorist oder Alt Laute, Tenor
Laute, Bass laute and Gross Octav Bass Laut.
20
Gut strings overwound with wire for the violone were
first advertised in England in 1654 by John Playford. It is worth
noting, however, that in 1676 Thomas Mace, in his all-comprising
description of lute and lute-playing, never mentions this kind of
string. If wire overwound strings had been, in fact, used on the
lute, there would have been little sense to the many and complicated methods that were devised to lengthen its bass strings. Such

methods were still being experimented with well into the


eighteenth century.
21
quelle corde sotto il Basso [del liuto] che hormai usar si
vedono da ciascuno che suona tal strumento, [...] Dio sa quanto &
come le si odono [...] mediante la debilit del suono loro. Vincenzo Galilei, Fronimo Dialogo di Vincentio Galilei nobile fiorentino
sopra larte del bene intavolare et rettamente sonare la musica negli
strumenti artificiali si di corde come di fiato, & in particulare nel Liuto
(Firenze, 1568 and 1584), 102, 105.
22
essendo io lanno MDLXXXXIIII al servigio del serenissimo Duca di Ferrara, andai a Padova alla bottega di Christofano
Heberle, principalissimo Liutaro, e li feci fare per prova un Liuto
di corpo cos longo, che serviva di tratta de i contrabassi, & aveva
due scanelli molto lontani, uno da laltro, & riusc di poca voce,
perch non si potevano toccare i contrabassi appresso lo scanello
(A. Piccinini, op. cit., 8). As noted by Orlando Cristoforetti, the
construction of the long lute took place in 1595, as shown by a
letter by Piccinini himself. See Orlando Cristoforetti, Preface to
the facsimile edition of Piccinini, op. cit. (Firenze: SPES, 1983).
23
The only surviving instrument of this type, very likely the
same one that was built for Piccinini, is conserved in Vienna,
Kunsthistorisches Museum. A sketch of its profile is reproduced
in Friedmann Hellwig, The Morphology of Lutes with Extended
Bass Strings, Early Music IX/4 (October 1981), 453.
24
[Weiss] increased it [i.e. the lute] from eleven to thirteen
courses. Smith 1998: 8 suggests that the idea of adding a bassrider could have been inspired from the chanterelle-rider already
in use in ten- and eleven-course lutes. This development probably
occurred in the period between 1717 and 1719, since Weiss
composed exclusively for eleven-course lute until 1717, whereas
his first composition for thirteen-courses is dated 1719. Luise A.
V. Gottscheol, ne Kulmus, in Johann Christoph Gottsched, Handlexicon oder Kurzgefasstes Wrterbuch der schnen Wissenschaften und
freyen Knste (Leipzig, 1760); quoted in Frank Legl, Zwischen
Grottkau und Neuburg: Neues zur Biographie von Sylvius
Leopold Weiss, Die Laute: Jahrbuch der Deutschen Lautengesellschaft IV (2000), 31. English translation by D.A. Smith in Frank
Legl, Between Grottkau and Neuburg: New Information on the
Biography of Sylvius Leopold Weiss, Journal of the Lute Society of
America XXXI (1998), 73.
25
For a list of surviving instruments of this kind of lutes see
F. Hellwig, The Morphology, 448.
26
English Gaultier [...] hath caused twoe heads to be made
to the Lute (Burwell Lute Tutor, British Library: RM.20.h.1: f.21,
quoted in Robert Spencer, Chitarrone, Theorbo and Archlute,
Early Music IV/4 (October 1976), 418.
27
Therefore, there is no way to confuse Jacques Gaultier neither with Ennemond Gaultier (commonly called le vieux or
Gaultier de Lyon) nor with Denis Gaultier (called le jeune or
Gaultier de Paris).
28
Mace 1676 calls this lute the French lute. On the other
hand, the Talbot manuscript (Christ Church, Oxford, Music Ms.
1187, ca. 169295) calls it English lute, and uses the term
French lute for the eleven-course lute (with only one nut).
29
Copenhagen, Musikhistorisk Museum og Carl Claudius
Samling, no. 93. F. Hellwig, The Morphology, 448. This instrument has a label reading SIXTUS RAVWOLF// AVGVSTANVS
1598 [or 1599?]. Obviously this does not exclude the possibility
that the neck and the pegbox were modified later.
30
This idea was suggested to me by Michael Lowe (private
conversation).
31
F. Hellwig, The Morphology, 448.

85

Mariagrazia Carlone, Lutes, Archlutes, Theorboes in Iconography


32

Madrid, Museo del Prado, inv. no. 1395.


Roma, Galleria Nazionale, Palazzo Barberini. The large
lute painted by Saraceni differs from those portrayed by Molenaer in that the length of the extension is proportionally smaller.
34
Both terms theorbo and chitarrone refer to the same
instrument. Many Italian sources from the beginning of the seventeenth century confirm this beyond doubt with expressions such
as chitarone, Tiorba che si dica. See Emilio dei Cavalieri,
Rappresentazione di anima e di corpo (Roma, 1600); Bartolomeo
Barbarino, Il secondo libro de madrigali de diversi autori (Venezia,
1607); Agostino Agazzari, Copia duna lettera scritta dal Sig.
Agostino Agazzari un virtuoso sanese, included in Adriano
Banchieri, Conclusioni nel suono dellOrgano (Bologna, 1609; facs.
ed. Bologna, 1968), 68-69; and several other sources quoted in
Kevin Mason, The Chitarrone and Its Repertoire in Early SeventeenthCentury Italy (Aberystwyth, Wales: Boethius Press, 1989). It is also
confirmed by Praetorius: Chitaron, dass ist eine Theorba;
Theorba oder Chitarron, wie es die Itali nennen (Syntagma III:
129, 193). In fact, the term chitarrone was rarely used outside of
Italy and it almost disappeared after 1659. Praetorius does,
however, make a distinction between the Paduanische Theorba
(short extension) and the Lang Romanische Theorba: Chitarron
(long extension), but this evidence is found exclusively in his
Syntagma, and is put into doubt by Praetorius himself soon
afterwards, Wiewol von Jahren zu jahren alzeit mehr enderungen hierinnen vorfallen unnd erdacht werden: Darumb auch
nichts gewisses hiervon zuschreiben (Syntagma II: cap. 25).
35
The chitarrone was probably invented, or, at least,
brought into general use within the milieu of the Florentine Camerata, by Antonio Naldi, known as Bardella. It was developed
from the bass lute used to accompany the voice. Alessandro Piccinini describes its invention in an illuminating passage in his
treatise of 1623: si facevano liuti grandissimi, che in Bologna,
erano molto apprezzati, per suonare in concerto con altri Liuti
piccoli [...] li tenevano alti daccordatura talmente, che la prima
corda, non potendo arrivare cos alta vi posero invece di quella
unaltra corda grossa accordandola unottava pi bassa, il che
riusciva per quelleffetto benissimo, come hoggid ancor si usa.
Doppo alcun tempo, cominciando a fiorir il bel cantare parve
quei Virtuosi, che questi Liuti grandi, per esser cos dolci, fossero
molto a proposito duno, che canta, per accompagnamento; ma
trovandoli molto pi bassi del bisogno loro, furno necessitati fornirli di corde pi sottili tirandoli in tuono commodo alla voce. E
perche le seconde non potevano arrivare con lessempio dellaltra
corda le accordorno unottava pi bassa; & cos hebbero il loro
intento e questo fu il principio della Tiorba, vero Chitarrone.
A. Piccinini, op. cit., 5.
33

86

36
See also Jol Dugot, Some Lutes in Paris Museums. I,
Journal of the Lute Society of America XVI (1983), 28. The musical
context cannot always be a reliable guide as to the identity of the
instrument. While the archlute was essentially a solo and the
theorbo an accompaniment instrument, the archlute could be
used for the realization of a thorough-bass, and a small solo repertoire was developed for the theorbo. For a list of solo and duet
repertoire specific to the chitarrone, see K. Mason, op. cit., 153-155.
37
For instance, in 1622 Bellerofonte Castaldi calls for a small
octave theorbo (tiorbino) in his Capricci. A beautiful engraving
is included in his book opposite p. 4, and reproduced in K. Mason, op. cit., fig. 3. The image shows two theorbo players, one
holding a tiorbino.
38
See K. Mason, op. cit., 9.
39
The label seems inappropriate, both because it does not
take into account the tuning and because it seems to imply that
the idea of the bass-string extension was originally developed for
the theorbo. Against this affirmation stands the passionate argument of Alessandro Piccinini (op. cit, 5, 8): after describing how he
himself invented the bass-string extension in order to resolve the
problem of extending the range of the bass strings on the lute
(thus giving rise to the archlute), he claims that this invention was
applied to the chitarrone only several years later. Until that time
the chitarrone was simply a large bass lute with the new reentrant tuning: Dove h nominato il Liuto, h voluto intendere
ancor dellArciliuto per non dire, come molti dicono, Liuto
Attiorbato, come se linventione fosse cavata dalla Tiorba, Chitarrone, per dir meglio, il che falso, e lo so io, come quello, che
sono stato lInventore di questi Arciliuti.
40
D.A. Smith, A Biography of Sylvius Leopold Weiss,
Journal of the Lute Society of America XXXI (1998), 36.
41
Luise A.V. Gottsched, in: J.C. Gottsched, op. cit., 1004-5 and
1644-45, quoted in F. Legl, Zwischen Grottkau und Neuburg,
30-31. Luise Gottsched knew Weiss personally.
42
So ist zu merken, da sie [Laute und Theorbe] sehr von
einander unterschieden sind. Denn auf der Laute ist eine Gesangsaite nthig; auf der Theorbe aber, die eine Terzie tiefer, von der
ersten Saite angerechnet, anfngt, und wo der Ba eine oder auch
zwey Saiten mehr hat, fllt die Gesangsaite gnzlich weg: weil sie
wegen der Lnge nicht halten will. (Herr Barons Abhandlung
von dem Notensystem der Laute und der Theorbe in F.W. Marpurg, Historisch-kritische Beytrge zur Aufnahme der Musik 2 (1756),
119-123. Quoted in Timothy Burris, Lute and Theorbo in Vocal
Music in 18th-Century Dresden: A Performance Practice Study (Ph.D.
diss., Duke University, 1977).

Music in Art XXX/12 (2005)


INDEX OF BIBLIOGRAPHICAL SOURCES
PRIMARY SOURCES
AGAZZARI, Agostino. Copia duna lettera scritta dal Sig. Agostino Agazzari un virtuoso sanese, included in Adriano Banchieri, Conclusioni nel suono dellorgano (Bologna, 1609; facs.
ed., Bologna, 1968), 68-69.
BARBARINO, Bartolomeo, Il secondo libro de madrigali de diversi autori (Venezia, 1607).
BARON, Ernst Gottlieb. Historisch-theoretisch und practische Untersuchung des Instruments der Lauten (Nrenberg, 1727; English
translation as Study of the Lute by D.A. Smith (Redondo
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CASTALDI, Bellerofonte. Capricci a due stromenti cioe tiorba e tiorbino
(Modena, 1622; facs. ed., Genve: Minkoff, 1981).
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1600).
DOWLAND, John. Other Necessary Observations belonging to the
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1610; facs. ed., London: Schott, 1958), 13-18.

GALILEI, Vincenzo. Fronimo Dialogo di Vincentio Galilei nobile fiorentino sopra larte del bene intavolare et rettamente sonare la musica
negli strumenti artificiali si di corde come di fiato, & in particulare
nel liuto (Firenze, 1568 and 1584).
GOTTSCHED, Johann Christoph. Handlexicon oder Kurzgefasstes
Wrterbuch der schnen Wissenschaften und freyen Knste
(Leipzig, 1760).
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14811483).

MODERN STUDIES
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Dresden (Ph.D. diss., Duke University, 1977).
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DUGOT, Jol. Some Lutes in Paris Museums. I. Journal of the Lute
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Palermo, Imago Musicae II (1985), 9-49.
HELLWIG, Friedmann. Lute Construction in the Renaissance and
the Baroque, Galpin Society Journal XXVII (1974), 21-30.
. The Morphology of Lutes with Extended Bass Strings,
Early Music IX/4 (October 1981), 447-454.
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LEGL, Frank. Between Grottkau and Neuburg: New Information
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. Zwischen Grottkau und Neuburg: Neues zur Biographie
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LOWE, Michael. The Historical Development of the Lute in the
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LUNDBERG, Robert. Sixteenth and Seventeenth Century LuteMaking, Journal of the Lute Society of America VII (1974), 3150.
. In Tune With the Universe: The Physics and Metaphysics of Galileos Lute, Music and Science in the Age of Galileo.
Ed. by Victor Coelho (Dordrecht; Boston; London: Kluwer
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MASON, Kevin. The Chitarrone And Its Repertoire in Early Seventeenth-Century Italy (Aberystwyth: Boethius Press, 1989).

MASSIP, Catherine. Facteurs dinstruments et matres danser


parisiens au XVIIe sicle, Instrumentistes et luthiers parisiens
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SAFFLE, Michael. Lutes and Related Instruments in Eight Important European and American Collections, Journal of the
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. A Biography of Sylvius Leopold Weiss, Journal of the Lute
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87

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