Woman playing vihuela de arco, Calisto Piazza, detail from “Musical group” 1520-1530.

(1520-1530) - Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia (PA)
instrument: vihuela de arco | century: 16cent/1/early | catalogue nº: 16-171

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Creator Piazza, Calisto

Medium Artwork: Painting


City Lodi | Region Italy | Old kingdom Italy

Body Corners Strings 6 strings Neck Obscured Pegbox Obscured
Bridge Tailpiece Frets Obscured Back Not visible Pegs Obscured
Technique Bowed a gamba

Oil on wood, 90.5 x 90.5 cm. Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia (PA), inv. 234, John G. Johnson Collection
The full painting shows an ensemble of musicians playing together: one or two singers, 2 treble recorders, lute and vihuela de arco. The URL in the Philadelphia Museum of Art is

Together with the lute it is clear that this is a realistic depiction. The vihuela de arco is representative of the Spanish inspired instruments now flourishing in Italy. It is wide of body with deeply cornered waists, an arched bridge and C-holes. It is an early example of an instrument with a raised fingerboard. It has six strings and is played with a bow held with an underhand grip, even though the instrument is being played in a more horizontal than vertical position.