Filippo Della Casa (1737–1810), Third movement (Allegro) from Sonata in C. Dennis Cinelli, lute. Darren O'Neill, engineer. Musical Instruments Gallery. (June 11, 2007)
David Tecchler (German, active Rome, 1666–1747)
Spruce, ebony, ivory, tortoiseshell, mother–of–pearl, various other materials; L. 70 3/4 in. (179.7 cm)
Purchase, Clara Mertens Bequest, in memory of André Mertens, 1988 (1988.87)
Sometime after the invention of the chitarrone ("large kithara") in Florence about 1585, various local forms of long-necked lutes were developed. One variant appearing in Rome at the end of the sixteenth century, dubbed the Roman archlute, accommodated unfretted diatonic bass strings, was tuned at a lower pitch, and was used in many churches. Only a small number of this type of archlute is known to be extant today.
The Museum's fairly late example was built by the most prominent Roman luthier of his day, David Tecchler. German-born, Tecchler came from Augsburg to Rome before 1700 and remained there until his death. Renowned for his violins and, especially, his cellos, Tecchler also occasionally made plucked instruments; however, this handsome instrument, signed Dav: Tecchler/fecit Romal AD 1725 on an ivory plaque on the finial and similarly labeled within the body, seems to be his only extant archlute. Its deeply arched back comprises fourteen thin ebony staves separated by ivory double striping. The neck is veneered front and back with tortoiseshell over a thin layer of gold leaf. Six pairs of strings extend above the gut-fretted fingerboard, while eight single bass strings are fastened into a second extended pegbox. The fragile soundboard—currently in remarkably fine condition—is ornamented with an intricately carved rosette in the soundhole, mother-of-pearl inlays, and outlined with a bone and tortoiseshell lace. A clip on the back of the neck and a button at the tail secured a strap that supported the nearly six-foot-long instrument.