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

Illustrations - 5 of 10


transcription of choir-book's Gloria

fig. 44: Adorazione del Bambino, 1512 Cornelisz van Oostzanen, Napoli

Perhaps the clearest of all early dulcimer pictures is that of Cornelisz van Oostzanen, the 'Adoration of the Infant' ( fig. 44g): the painting lacks no significant detail, and Prof. Fritz Stradner of Kloster-Neuburg, Austria, has made a copy which the author has played; the dulcimer on which he normally performs is also essentially the same, although with more courses. The cut-away part of the rim nearest the player is a particularly closely-observed detail, and similar forms are used in

  1. a Lithuanian instrument sketched by Dr. Norlind after Karutz
  2. McKenzie's 1875 patent (fig. 175)
  3. a Tyrolean instrument (fig. 198)
  4. and the instrument played by the Swiss beggar-girl of 1925 in Brigitte Geiser's 1975 book (p.61).

The wrest- and hitchpins are also interesting: they are shown in the top of the soundboard, a position unusual in representations, but normal in surviving instruments. The ensemble of shawms and trumpets strongly suggests improvised music for a basse dance (177), although this contra-indicated by the presence of written music: this is a four-part Gloria in choir-book format and is complete with underlain text, although no-one is singing from it. Prof. Ian Bent has identified the script as dating from c.1440, some 70 years earlier than the painting itself. It is noticeable that only the wind players are shown as looking at the written notes. while the dulcimer-player is concentrating, presumably, on hitting the right string.