Woman playing guitar

(1555) - Guerrero, Sacrae Cantiones (1555).
instrument: vihuela de mano / guitarra | century: 16cent/2/mid | catalogue nº: 16-208

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Medium Artwork: Woodcut


City Sevilla | Region Andalucia | Old kingdom Castile

Body Waisted Strings 4 strings Neck Medium Pegbox Angled flat
Bridge Fixed Frets Yes Back Not visible Pegs Rear
Technique Plucked fingers thumb out

Detail from the frontispiece of Francisco Guerrero, Sacrae Cantiones (1555).

The instrument depicted here appears to be a 4-course guitar. It is shape and features are typical of many early to mid-sixteenth century vihuelas and guitars. The boduy has upper and lower bouts of similar width with gently incurved waist. The body appears to be quite shallow, possibly in the style of an instrument carved from a single block of wood. The other visible features —the bridge, fretted fingerboard and pegbox— are all consistent with other instruments. It is played by a female instrumentalist, ostensibly the Greek muse Euterpe, the goddess of lyric singing. She appears to be reading from mensural notation rather than tablature, with her left hand in the position of playing a chord, possibly in the act of accompanying herself. Ward1953, 16: “This charming woodcut of two muses shows Urania drawing with a compass and Euterpe playing a vihuela. The instrument, quite small and slender, with a flat pegbox slightly inclined, has four strings, one single and three double. The clear indication of the number of strings is quite rare.”