Arpanetta 1670, Germany The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. A spitzharfe (or arpanetta) is a musical string instrument popular in Italy and Germany in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Up to 90 centimetres tall, it is designed to be placed on a table, and consists of two sets of strings - steel strings to produce the melody and brass strings for the accompaniment. It is played by plucking with fingers, in a manner similar to the harp.
Pinspire - This violin would have been made for the Royal Household either late in the reign of Charles II (r. 1660-1685) or during the reign of James II (r. 1685-1688). The ornate carving on the back would have been highly fashionable at about this time, and it includes the Royal Stuart coat of arms before the royal arms were modified at the time of the accession of William III and Queen Mary in 1688
Sarangi. Date: ca. 1900 Geography: India Medium: Wood, ivory, parchment, metal. A beautiful full sound and a close proximity to the melodic flexibility of the human voice make the sarangi the most important bowed instrument of classical Hindustani music of northern India and Pakistan.
Mandora or chitarino, ca. 1420 Northern Italy (Milan?) Boxwood and rosewood. There are three surviving examples of this mysterious type of instrument from the early fifteenth century, of which the one exhibited here is the most elegant. Originally the instrument would have been strung with four or five strings, but whether it was played with a bow or plucked remains unclear. The carved imagery relates to courtly romance and probably alludes to the rewards of fidelity in love.
Clavicytheria, or upright harpsichords, were made as early as the 15th century, but tall examples such as this date from the late Baroque era. Having 2 sets of doors that conceal the strings, the case appears ungainly when open, but when closed it has a graceful outline embellished by gilded "wings" and stops control 2 sets of strings. The mechanism has been altered and the painted soundboard is a replacement; originally the instrument may have been an upright piano.