Seven String Bass Viol

Maker: Nicolas Bertrand (1686–1735)

Date: 1720

Geography: Paris, France

Culture: French

Medium: Maple, spruce

Dimensions: Height: 51 15/16 in. (132 cm)
Width: 16 1/8 in. (41 cm)
Depth: 9 13/16 in. (25 cm)

Classification: Chordophone-Lute-bowed-fretted

Credit Line: The Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments, 1889

Accession Number: 89.4.1343


This instrument retains its original neck, which was reshaped when the viol was converted to a cello, probably in the late eighteenth or nineteenth century. Bass viols of French origin feature seven strings, an invention of the French viol player Jean de Sainte-Colombe (fl. 1658–87, died by 1701). Nicolas Bertrand, one of the most celebrated makers of viols, incorporated this feature in his bass viols.