Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object

Lyre Guitar

Maker:
Possibly Joseph Pons (French, born 1776) (probably a son of César Pons)
Date:
ca. 1805
Geography:
Paris, France
Culture:
French
Medium:
Mahogany, spruce, ebony, brass, nickel-silver, gilding
Dimensions:
Height: 34 1/4 in. (87 cm) Width: 14 3/8 in. (36.5 cm)
Classification:
Chordophone-Lute-plucked-fretted
Credit Line:
Purchase, Clara Mertens Bequest, in memory of André Mertens, 1998
Accession Number:
1998.121
Not on view
This form of the guitar was created about 1785. The columnar arms supporting the yoke are veneered in mahogany. The guitar has six single courses of strings. A printed label inside the instrument reads: “Pons / fils / luthier, / Rue du Grand Hurleur / No. 5 / A Paris, an 13.” The phrase “an 13” refers to the thirteenth year (1804–1805) of the French Revolutionary Calendar.
Renaissance paintings by Lorenzo Costa and Raffaellino Garbo show lyre-guitars held upright (possibly interpretations of incised strings in classical bas-reliefs), as they were properly held by the player. Essentially, the lyre-guitar was a modified version of the lyre of antiquity, but with a fingerboard and six strings. English lyre-guitars were sold from 1811 as the six-string "Apollo" lyre of Edward Light and the twelve-string "Imperyal Lyre" of Angelo Benedetto Ventura.
Marking: (printed label within ornamental border) "Pons, fils/luthier,/Rue du Grand Hurleur/No. 5/A Paris, an 13."; (stamped on front of pegbox and on soundboard just below fingerboard) "Pons fils/à Paris"
Dangerous Curves: The Art Of The Guitar. Museum of Fine Arts. Boston, MA, 2001, pg. 53, ill.



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