Angel playing the vihuela alongside the Virgen Mary

Valladolid, Iglesia de San Pablo, in one of the side chapels
instrument: vihuela de mano | century: 16cent/1/early | catalogue nº: 16-173

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Creator anon

Medium Artwork: Painting


City Valladolid | Region Castilla-León | Old kingdom Castile

Body Waisted Strings 6 strings Neck Short Pegbox Angled flat
Bridge Fixed Frets Unclear Back Flat Pegs Unclear
Technique Plucked fingers equal p+i

This angel playing the vihuela stands to the left of the Virgen Mary in a Coronation scene. It is painted in oil on wood, and was originally in the Monasterio de dominicas de Santa Catalina (Valladolid) = Santa Catalina de Siena. The former monastery was bought by the Ayuntamiento of Valladolid and most of the artworks were acquired by the church of San Pablo. Given the classification of the painting as belonging to the Escuela Hispano-flamenca, i.e. from the time of the Reyes Católicos, I would suggest it to be from late in that period, if not the 1520s or 1530s given the style of the vihuela. The only other musical instruments are depicted in the painting is a portative organ whose pipes can be seen behind the neck of the vihuela.
The plaque accompanying the painting describes it as follows:
Coronación de la Virgen María (arrodillada) por Dios Padre en Majestad (sentado en la sede), cubierto con tiara, sosteniendo la bola del mundo. En lo alto: dos ángeles sostienen la corona; junto a la Vírgen: ángeles músicos. Realismo, profusión de detalles; restos de arquitectura, filacterias con leyenda borrada, cielo estrellado, tejido almidonado del ropaje. Pintura sobre tabla. Escuela hispano flamenca.

Vihuela with incurved waists, with fixed recatangular bridge and a round soundhole, The neck is short and the fingerboard the same colour as the soundboard, although the depth of the instrument makes it unlikely to be a one-piece instrument. the pegbox is not clear but seems to be an angled rectangular type. The depiction of strings is not accurate. In front of the plucking hand are seven strings, not clearly arranged either singly or in courses. Behind the player’s hand, there are six upper strings that appear to be in courses, but further strings fall i=under the shadow of the hand and are not clear.

Photo taken by Gracia Gil, 2021. Used with her permission