Reconstruction of a plucked viola from the painting

Madonna and Child with Saints by Veronese artist Girolamo dai Libri (1474 - 1555)


Viola da mano can be regarded as an Italian equivalent to the Spanish vihuela. The most obvious difference between the two seems to be only the shape of their bodies: C-shape cuts with pointed corners on the viola da mano and figure-of-eight body shape on the vihuela. The viola da mano was fairly widespread, alongside the lute, in the late 15th – mid 16th century Italy. It also shared both the tuning and the number of strings (or courses) with the vihuela and the lute. For example, one of the most prolific composers of the Italian Renaissance – Francesco Cavova da Milano (Il divino Francesco) – indicated that his pieces could be played either on the lute or viola da mano.

The instrument featured on this page belongs to Michael Fields

For larger images click on the corresponding views below

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