Citole by Unknown Artist

The citole or gittern was held across the chest and was played with a plectrum.

Details

Medium:
Wood
Dimensions:
62 cm
Art Fund grant:
£2,500 ( Total: £44,000)
Acquired in:
1963

It generally had four strings and was the precursor of the lute as the instrument with which a singer accompanied himself. In this work, the body and neck are in one piece and finely carved with naturalistic foliage, among which are swineherds, huntsmen, animals, and grotesque figures. The carving resembles that found in English sculpture (e.g. the Chapter House at Southwell, 1280-1300) and is paralleled by the decoration of many manuscripts of the period (e.g. the Ormesby Psalter in the Bodleian Library, c. 1310-25). Covering the tuning pegs is a silver plate engraved with the arms of Queen Elizabeth and the badge of the Earl of Leicester, the Bear and Ragged Staff. At some uncertain date the gittern had been remodelled to resemble a violin by the addition of new finger and sounding-boards which have since been removed.

Provenance

By the eighteenth century belonged to the Duke of Dorset; R.Bremmer; by 1874 on loan from the Earl of Warwick to the South Kensington Museum.

Venue details

British Museum Great Russell Street, LONDON London WC1B 3DG 020 7323 8299 www.britishmuseum.org

Entry details

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