As the Mandolin was the focus of our #TuesdayTrivia post we thought we’d also make it our #ThrowbackThursday one.
Although the instrument dates from around the 15th Century we thought this one, dating from 1781, was worth sharing for its sheer ornanteness.
This is a Neapolitan mandolin, one of a number of regional variations that arose during the mid-eighteenth century, and was probably designed by a member of the Vinaccia family. It has a cant (bend) below the bridge that gives the instrument greater strength.
As we mentioned on Tuesday, the four pairs of strings are tuned to the pitches of a violin and the instrument is played with a plectrum.
The reason we selected this particular early Neapolitan mandolin is because it is amongst the most decorated examples of its kind. Currently in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, this mandolin has a back made from twenty-three individual narrow fluted strips of tortoiseshell with ebony and ivory spacers. Its sides are elaborately decorated with tortoiseshell molding and floral paintings on a gilt ground and the soundboard is decorated with inlaid mother-of-pearl, tortoiseshell, and gold alloy.