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'Charles IX' viola

This large viola was made for the French court during the reign of Charles IX. The tailpiece is old and probably original; it has a little silver plate fitted over the gut, possibly added much later to protect the gut from damage. The fingerboard is not original but has been inlaid to match the tailpiece. The neck, also, is not old, but the pegbox and scroll are original. It is inscribed along the ribs with the king’s motto, pietate et iustitia (by piety and justice), and the back is decorated with allegorical figures of Piety and Justice, letters K (for ‘Karolus’), crowned columns, putti with crowns, the chain and badge of the order of Saint-Michel, and three fleurs-de-lys. Comparison with the front of the Charles IX violin in Cremona indicates that both instruments were made from wood from the same tree.

  • Date:
    after 1564
  • Maker:
  • Collection:
    Ashmolean Museum
  • Inventory number:
  • Place of production:
    Cremona (Timezone: Europe/Rome)
  • Culture:
  • Period:
  • Materials:pine, maple
  • Specific materials/techniques:
  • Decorative elements:
  • Inscriptions:inscription/mark: ANDREA AMADI IN / CREMONA M.D.L.XXiiij (Label [not original])|inscription/mark: PIETATE ET IUSTITIA (by piety and justice) (motto on the ribs)
  • Hornbostel-Sachs category:
  • Repository:Ashmolean Museum
  • Measurements:469.25 mm of back length; 224.5 mm upper bout (back) width; 150.75 mm middle bout (back) width; 269 mm lower bout (back) width; 405.5 mm string length