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Bass viol, Henry Jaye, London, 1619

DETAILS

Object name
Maker
Date
1619
Place
Object number
RCM0935
Acquisition
Gift from Kessler, Jane — 2012

Description

Perhaps the most striking aspect of this instrument is the purfling used to decorate the front, back, ribs and fittings. The varnish is also of an unusually intense deep red colour not known elsewhere at this early date. The front is formed from 5 bent spruce staves, while the back is of two pieces of maple/sycamore. The neck, head and fingerboard are all original and the replacement tailpiece has been made to match the fingerboard. The carved head is thought to represent Marsyas, the satyr in Greek mythology who was involved in two music-related stories. In the first, he played Athena’s aulos (a flute) and in the second, having lost a musical contest with Apollo (who played the lyre), he was flayed and his skin hung from a tree. This perhaps explains the pained expression on his face.

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