Maker: Benito Sanchez de Aguilera (Spanish, Madrid, active 1790–1800)

Date: 1797

Geography: Madrid, Spain

Culture: Spanish

Medium: Spruce or fir top, cypress back and ribs, mahogany neck, rosewood fingerboard and frets, ebony nut, gut strings

Classification: Chordophone-Lute-plucked-fretted

Credit Line: Purchase, Clara Mertens Bequest, in memory of André Mertens, 1990

Accession Number: 1990.221


This is the only known guitar made by the Spanish luthier Benito Sanchez de Aguilera who was active in the last decade of the eighteenth century. The guitar has six double-courses of strings, a transitional style between the five double-course guitars of the baroque and the six single string guitars that became popular in the early nineteenth century and remain the standard to this day. The Sanchez guitar has a sharp contrast between the very wide lower bouts and the much narrower upper bouts. Such a contrast would become increasingly popular in nineteenth century Madrid and within other Spanish traditions. The instrument has a two-piece top of spruce or fir and a three-piece cypress back and sides. The head, neck, and bridge are replacements in the style of the originals.