I saw this beautiful thing played at a concert by La Follia Baroque; its player, James, told me about its history. Designed and built by luthier Timothy Johnson of Hewitt, it is a division viol (which the VdGSA says is an English type of bass viola da gamba). Johnson says the inlaid pattern is acanthus (scrolling decoration used since the ancient Greeks and based on a Mediterranean plant), “created using an intarsia technique called tarsi a incastro which was brought to a high level of perfection by George Boule, furniture maker to King Louis XIV. It became a very popular decorative style of the late 17th century for both furniture and musical instruments.”
More photos of this viol’s inlaid back, sides and details here.
La Follia is a wonderful group that plays Vivaldi, Mozart and contemporaries on the original instruments — sitting in a small chamber with them is a bit like really, really pleasant time travel.
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