Paul's Guitar Museum

10. Theorbo or Lute?

Gerard Ter Borch (Dutch Painter) Musicians 1675, p195, Cincinnati Art Museum
theorbo/lute player

"Lute Player" 1667  (theorbo/lute)

Gerard Ter Borch: 1617-81, Dutch genre and portrait painter. He portrayed the life of the wealthy Dutch burgher class in elegant and serene paintings. His most famous pictures include The Guitar Lesson (National Gall., London) and the celebrated group portrait The Peace of M√ľnster (1648; National Gall., London).

Paul: I looked in my humble library of musical instrument books and found several instruments very much like the "lute player" painting above. In "The world of medieval & renaissance musical instruments" by J.Montague I found three theorbo's:

  • a Panduan Theorbo made by Wendelin Tieffenbrucker in 1595 (Kunsthistoriches Museum, Vienna)
  • A Venetian Theorbo made by Matteo Sellas in 1637 (Victoria & Albert Museum, London)
  • Roman theorbo (archlute or chitarrone) by Magno Tieffenbrucker in the second half of the 16th century (Kunthistoriches Museum, Vienna)

In "The World of Musical Instruments" by A. Kendall I found four theorboes:

  • in a painting: "The Sharp Family on the Thames" by Zoffany, a venetian theorbo
  • two more Venetian style theorbo's 1) Michael Rauche, London 1762 and 2) J.H. Goldt in Hamburg 1734 both in the "Victoria & Albert museum , London
  • an archlute Theorbo (roman theorbo) in a painting "The Theorbo Player" by Jan Brockhorst early 1600's
  • painting by G. Terboc in a book "String instruments of the Middle Ages" by H. Panum.

All of the theorboe's I found have a" straight head" kinda like a fender where the head has a "jog" in it then it keeps going strait. Lute's on the other hand have a head that is close to 90 degrees from the fingerboard and here's the clincher - the instrument in the painting "the lute player" is identified as a "Theorbo-Lute" & it has BOTH characteristics: a head like a theorbo and a head like a lute.

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