Early Guitars and Vihuela

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In my file of illustrations I have one just labelled "Biagio Marini".   Can anyone identify this?   Who is the artists? Is it really Marini?  Here it is...Monica

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Perhaps it's worth to mention that this painting - after it was acquired by Louis XVI in 1662 - was later enlarged and some of the details were altered too; most notably the guitar, which, in its original incarnation, had a vaulted back, as is shown, for example, on Etienne Picart's engraving:

I ought to know this but don't, although I'm sure somebody else will also recognise the painting.  I found it on at least two Biagio Marini recording covers by googling, which may explain the attribution.

Can anyone identify this painting.   I have several illustrations which I have downloaded on various occasions without recording where I found them...Lazy of me!   Monica

Hello Monica,

The internet thinks it is by  Jan Gerritsz van Bronckhorst.

Did you know you can use Google image search based on an image? You can either upload an image from your computer or enter a url for an image. It is a very useful function.


Thanks Jelma for the useful information.  Actually I don't think my browser will let me do things like that.  It keeps telling me that it is out of date and needs updating but I need a new computer to do that!

Many thanks Alexander.  That's very helpful.   Presumably there is no reason to think that any of the musicians are actually  Biagio Marini.   It has been used on a CD of some of his music.   That must be where I got it from originally.   The guitar does seem to have a slightly vaulted back although not so pronounced as in the engraving.  

To me, the guitar on the original painting was clearly altered to mean a flat-back one; I can't possibly see any 'slight vaulting' there (if you have a chance to have a close look at a good quality reproduction or the original in Louvre, you'd know what I mean). A few years ago, somebody kindly sent me an image of one of the existing copies of the original Spada's painting (from the Moravian Gallery, Brno)*, which is believed to be painted by Jean Daret, most evidently before it was sold to Louis XIV, and / or altered upon his demand. It's a really beautiful painting in its own way, and seems to be very accurately reproduced too, with the guitar still in its original, vaulted-back shape. Looking at the Spada's painting again, it is even possible to see the border (see the top image below), however faint, where the alteration was made (i.e. note a somewhat darker strip of paint next to the back of the guitar). The engraving by Etienne Picart does indeed show a slightly more pronounced degree of vaulting in the back, as well as some change in perspective, as if the guitar is turned slightly toward the viewer.

*More references to the existing copies of the original painting can be found on the following link (see section 'Historique'), plus a somewhat incomplete list of alterations (see section 'Précision sujet représenté'), which doesn't even mention the guitar ...


Hope this helps,

Very helpful.  All I meant to say was that even in the reproduction I have the back did look very slightly as if it might have been vaulted.  The lower bout looks deeper than the upper bout.  Partly because of the way the shadowing has been reproduced. Fascinating.  It only has 9 pegs too hasn't it.


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