Some information regarding

bowed instruments in the

15th and 16th century



around 1400 Next to other models of bowed instruments in Europe we find two instruments prominently used: The Viella/Fiddle and the Rebec.


around 1450 The violetta of S. Caterina de' Vigri: the only bowed instrument of the late middle ages in all original parts preserved (except for a later bridge?).


1493 Report of Bernardino Prospero having heard Spanish musicians traveling from Rome performing on viole grande quasi come mj near Milan.


1495 Isabella d'Este orders three viole in Brescia.


around 1496 Depictions of early viole da gamba and lire da braccio in Bologna and Mantova.


1498 Documents name three makers of violette in Brescia: Bassano; Andrea and Nicolo Mussi.



P. Grammorseo, detail with a lira-fiddle, c. 1520


around 1505 Birth of Andrea Amati in Cremona.


1508 Depiction of a proto-violin (flat top and back) in Ferrara.


1510 - 1515 Depictions of an early viola da braccio, a lira da braccio and two viole da gamba in Ferrara.


1518 - 1535 Intarsie in Bologna, Parma and Finalpia show early forms of violins and transitional models between fiddles and violas. Mono-xylical ribs carved in the shape of a ring.


1523 Documented payments to trompettes et violons from Vercelli.


1529 / 1533 Brescian string instrument makers Jo. Jacobo Corna and Zanetto Micheli (violoni, lyre & simili) are documented.


1529 - 1535 Gaudenzio Ferrari depicts different sizes of instruments of the family of viole da braccio. Though in details mannerist these instruments show all the essential details of a genuine violin, viola or 'cello.



1530 li violini / violinists mentioned in a holy mass in Brescia.


1537 Depiction of a three-stringed violoncello by

L. Fiumicelli.

A document by a notary in Brescia states the order of five bowed instruments from Zanetto Micheli by a local musician.


1539 Earliest document in the Cremona archives on the work of Andrea Amati: a rental contract, attributing him maestro.


1540 Birth of Gasparo Bertolotti da Salò.


1556 Earliest mention of Antonio Amati, the elder son of Andrea, as a violin maker.


starting around 1560 earliest possible date for an identification of preserved instruments of the Amatis (Andrea, Antonio and Girolamo).


1577 Death of Andrea Amati.


Pomponio Amalteo, detail of a fresco; S. Vito, Friuli, c. 1535