Young man playing a vihuela, c.1520

(1520/ca) - E-Mn, R/4007. Chistes de muchas maneras nuevamente compuestos… (c. 1520).
instrument: vihuela de mano | century: 16cent/1/early | catalogue nº: 16-120

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Creator anon

Medium Artwork: Woodcut


City | Region Valencia? | Old kingdom Aragon?

Body Waisted Strings 3 strings Neck Medium Pegbox Angled flat
Bridge Fixed Frets Yes Back Flat Pegs Rear
Technique Plucked fingers

Frontispiece of an anonymous, undated broadsheet (pliego suelto) estimated to have been published c. 1520, intitled Chistes de muchas maneras nuevamente compuestos: con un villancico al cabo que dize: no me demandes carillo. ca 1520. The work is described and listed in numerous catalogues of printed pliegos sueltos. The reproduction shown here is from one of these (salva1872, I, 14).

This is a well-drawn small illustration of the kind of vihuela that is known readily from more famous illustrations such as the frontispiece of Milan’s El Maestro. It is a medium size instrument, probably a “vihuela común” with the lower bout wider than the upper one, a classic figure-of-eight shape. The position of the bridge and sound hole accord with the norms of construction style, and the soundboard is adorned with inlaid taraceas that are shown on many other instruments. The medium length neck has frets on the fingerboard, and the neck-body join seem to be at about the 10th fret. The depiction has only three strings, but this is no doubt symbolic and related to the size of the drawing. The instrument is described by Ward, who describes it as “poorly drawn” (ward1953, 13-14).