Manchester, 14th-18th July 2004


Naomi Joy Barker (Open University, UK)

Un-discarded images: illustrations of antique instruments in 17th and 18th century music books and their sources

Music books of the 17th and 18th century present a diverse range of images of antique instruments, but many of these are used and re-cycled without proper attribution or scholarly investigation as to their origin. Even scholars such as Mersenne and Forkel recycle existing images, thus perpetuating incorrect assumptions.  During the 17th century, there appears to be a widening gap between the classical scholar, intent on archaeological accuracy, and the music historian, for whom the music of antiquity held a fascination that had little to do with concrete artefacts, but was centred almost entirely on abstract theoretical concepts and the stuff of myth.

This paper discusses 17th and 18th century images of antique instruments found in paintings, antiquarian and scholarly publications and music books. An examination of the history and possible sources of some recurring images, and an exploration of illustrations that appear in treatises by Mersenne, Doni, Bonanni and others will be included. In particular, the role of drawings contained in Cassiano dal Pozzo’s paper museum, now in the Royal Library, Windsor Castle, will be assessed as a repository of ‘artefacts’.

Last updated on 10 May 2004