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

Illustrations - 6 of 10

fig. 48: The Wise and Foolish Virgins, Peter Claeissins II, Klooster Zwarte Zusters, Brugge

The dulcimer shown in the Wise and Foolish Virgins (fig.48) is interesting for its bridging: whilst the positioning does not seem to have been faithfully reproduced, the form is convincing in its detail, the left-hand bridge appearing to be rather similar to the metal 'staples' of the type 3 instruments of the 15th century (fig.30).

The right-hand bridge gives a strong impression that it is composed of six little studs, rather like chessmen, linked by a length of wire perhaps; this is a type of bridging which is otherwise generally associated with dulcimers made after about 1800, so this instrument may be of particular significance.

The Virgin appears to be playing with a single hammer and plucking with the other hand, but she may just as well be tuning.

The complete picture was not available in this study, but since the dulcimer-player's neighbour is busy playing a game of cards, it seems clear that playing the dulcimer was regarded by the painter or his patron as one of the 'foolish' activities. It would be interesting to know if the attitude applies specifically to particular kinds of instrument, or all music in general ...