German, 18th century
During the 17th century the lute evolved from the classic six-course instrument of the High Renaissance into an instrument with nine to twelve or more courses. This Baroque lute accommodated a richer, more homophonic, style of playing. After the lute had declined elsewhere in Europe in the late 17th century, it enjoyed a final period of popularity in 18th-century Germany. Rooted in the older French tradition, the German school reached its climax in the music of such composer-virtuosos as Ernest Baron and the brothers Silvius Leopold and Johann Sigismuind Weiss. Silvius Weiss was acquainted with J. S. Bach and may have inspired that composer's few pieces for the lute.
Inscription (on a label inside the back of the instrument: "Sebastian Schelle Lauten und Gei- / genmacher in Nürnberg, A. 1726." Overall length: 83.1cm; width 28cm; length of body: 47cm. depth of body 15.5cm; vibrating length of strings: 65.5cm. The body is made up of 11 ribs, six of sycamore and five of rosewood; the two-piece table is of spruce. 13 courses of strings: 11 on the main pegbox (9 double courses plus 2 chanterelles); and two on the second pegbox. The lowest 6 courses on the main pegbox and the two on the second pegbox are tuned in octaves--the lower of each pair of strings is overspun
The Belle Skinner Collection
Accession No. 4559.1960