CHAPTER 3: History to 1800 > Later Renaissance - 16th century

Illustrations - 1 of 10

Four 16th century illustrations show instruments without bridges:

  1. c.1525, Holbein, 'The old Man' from Totentanz (fig. 37);
  2. 16thC. Flemish Tapestry, Music, Boston Museum of Fine Arts (fig. 39);
  3. Les Mois Lucas, 'April - Le Concert'; actually tapestries made in the Gobelins factory, e.g. c.1688 and c.1730, but traditionally attributed to a model by Lucas Jacobsz van Leyden, 1494-1533 (Lady Lever Gallery, Port Sunlight; Mobilier National, Paris) (fig. 38);
  4. c.1560, wall paintings, Rynkeby Church (fig. 40).

    fig. 37: Hans Holbein, Totentanz

    fig. 38: 1730 Gobelin reproduction (Lady Lever Gallery, Port Sunlighto) of 'Le Concert Avril' from Les Mois Lucas, attrib. Lucas Jacobsz van Leyden, 16thC (Mobilier National, Paris),

    fig. 39: 16thC. Flemish tapestry, Music, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Mass. (from Bessaraboff)

    fig. 40: wall-painting, Rynkeby church, Fyn, Denmark (photo DK)

All these pictures are rather vague about some of their details, and it does not seem likely that there actually were examples of type 0 in use. Holbein's 'Old Man' (Fig. 37) is accompanied to the grave by a skeleton who has his (plucked) dulcimer slung on a cord round his neck - an early example of this way of supporting the instrument. The 'Old Woman' of the same series shows an instrument which is usually identified as a xylophone although it is supported in the same way as the dulcimer, a rather unusual xylophone pose. Two long strips are shown in 'The Old Man', at the edges of this soundboard, and certainly not far enough in for them to divide the strings into two playing parts. However, it may be that in the original model these trips were two bridges, the position of which was not noted exactly in the engraving: the instrument would then be a member of the largest 16th century group, 11.2. discussed below.

The hammer-grip of the lady in the April Concert (fig. 38) is interesting, for although she is holding her hammers between the first two fingers, as was almost universal at the time, she also has her thumbs under the end of the shaft, perhaps for extra control.

A fifth example of type 0 is discussed in section 3.4.4. below (fig. 58a).