Early Guitars and Vihuela

A network for historic guitars and vihuelas

Does anybody have images of guitarists, that they will share with me, especially antique prints, engravings or lithographs produced in England from the end of the eighteenth century to about 1835?

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Dear Christopher, this is a fabulous place to start: http://www.klassiskgitar.net/imagesmain.html

Regards, Jelma van Amersfoort

Indeed, Jelma. Many thanks indeed. I have had many happy hours in the past exploring that collection. I just wish there were more details about the libraries, galleries and museums where the images are actually to be found.

As far as I know the six stringed guitar wasn't know in England until 1815 when Sor came to London and played a concert. The guitar known in England before that was called The English guitar and was played with steel strings and tuned in a C major chord. If I'm wrong on please correct me. Mr. Mackillop has recorded  a CD with some music for this guitar


Dear Lars,

There are images showing six-string guitars in England by 1802/4 (the engraving of the famous actress and singer Mrs. Mountain, for example). The instrument was known here (for England is where I write) long before Sor's visit, though that did indeed give the guitar a lift.

Thank You for that info. Do You know if there's any music composed by english guitarists from early 19th century?
And the image of this Mrs. Mountain. Where can i see that

I just did a Google search for "Mrs. Mountain London" and here's what I found. 



It looks like 6 strings.  I can't say whether this is the engraving in question, however...

This is indeed the right image of Mrs. Mountain, save that this is a tinted version that, up to now, I had only seen briefly when James Westbrook showed it to me on his phone! Thanks for that. There are definitely six strings.
Lars, I suppose it depends how one defines an 'English' guitarist', and whether it is the same as 'a guitarist residing, publishing and composing in England' (!) In 1801, the Morning Post carried an advertisement for music by Mrs. Dussek, composed for the Spanish guitar. How would we classify that? There is much more material to be gleaned from the newspapers. I have not made  a systematic survey of the music in the English tutors, starting with Chabran (1795). I'm sure some of those pieces are  home-grown.
James is right about that. The term 'Spanish guitar' is found in English newspapers, novels and plays throughout the second half of the eighteenth century when, of course, the distinction between the gut-strung, figure-of-eight body instrument and the 'English' wire-strung guittar or (as some say) cittern was needed. The Mrs. Mountain picture plainly shows six single strings in 1802/4.
I suppose you have seen Lady Waldegrave?
This is a new one to me. Quite magnificent. Thanks indeed, Jelma.


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