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Tuesday, July 03, 2012

A Keyboard Instrument Builder from Renaissance: Annibale del Rossi

Victoria and Albert Museum: Virginal
(Annibale del Rossi fecit 1577)
published on Facebook by Sine musica nulla vita
no copyright infringement intended

Cypress case and soundboard, boxwood and ivory ornaments, inlaid with pearls, amethysts, lapis lazuli, jasper, agate, turquoise and other precious and semi-precious stones.

Of all musical instruments, those with keyboards were the grandest, and an ability to play them well was considered a princely virtue. Even more so if the owner possessed an elaborately decorated instrument like this one, which is covered with some 1,928 precious and semi-precious stones. However, the actual makers are mostly obscure figures, only known to us from signed and dated surviving examples of their work. Therefore it was an exceptional accolade for Annibale del Rossi (active 1542-1577) of Milan in northern Italy, who signed the present virginal, to be praised in Paolo Morigi's work, La Nobilità di Milano (1595): there he was said to have made an instrument with the keys all of precious stones for a learned and refined nobleman. That instrument may indeed be this very piece.

(Old Masters)



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