Bass viola da gamba

Michel Colichon1687

Sforzesco Castle

Sforzesco Castle
Milan, Italy

This bass viola da gamba is one of the eight such instruments manufactured by Michel Colichon in Paris between 1683 and 1693 currently known in the world. The instrument’s back, ribs and sound board are most likely made of an exotic wood that is hard to identify (cedrela?); single piece back, and sound board made up of five parts that have been bent and joined together. The tailpiece is lined with rosewood and inlaid with brass floral motifs. At some non-specified time, this viola da gamba was converted into a 4-string cello by substituting the upper half of the neck and the whole pegbox with subsequent narrowing of the fingerboard and tailpiece, which now has only four holes (instead of six holes as originally). However, the intervention preserved the original female carved head inserting it into the current pegbox.


  • Title: Bass viola da gamba
  • Creator: Michel Colichon
  • Date Created: 1687
  • Location: Comune di Milano - Museo degli Strumenti Musicali
  • Physical Dimensions: w39,2 x h113,8 x d13.3 (side height) cm (Complete)
  • Type: Musical instrument
  • Rights: Comune di Milano - Raccolte Artistiche del Castello Sforzesco.
  • External Link: http://strumentimusicali.milanocastello.it/
  • Medium: Cedrela (?), walnut, ebony, fruitwood, rosewood
  • Art Form: Musical instrument
  • Original title: Viola da ganba basso
  • Artist Nationality: French (?)
  • Artist Death Place: Paris (?)
  • Artist Death Date: 17th century (after 1693)
  • Artist Birth Place: Paris (?)
  • Artist Birth Date: 17th century (known since 1666)

Get the app

Explore museums and play with Art Transfer, Pocket Galleries, Art Selfie, and more


Google apps