Wednesday, 16 November 2011

My Favourite Princely Treasure

With so many beautiful and intricate pieces on display in Princely Treasures, choosing a favourite piece to examine in detail was not an easy task. Every time I visit the exhibition a different piece seems to catch my eye and with closer examination, it’s as though I notice something new and interesting every time. After careful consideration I have narrowed my favourite piece down to Joachim Tielke’s Guitar.

The detail in this piece is expressed so precisely and intricately a skill evident of the period; objects such as this were as much fashion accessories as they were musical instruments for virtuosic performances. For me, the internal detail is remarkable, the subtle rainbow shine of the tortoise shell draws my eye in and if it wasn’t for the barrier of the Perspex box I fear personal restraint would not be enough to dispel the urge to pick it up and strum a tune.

From my research (mostly from reading the catalogue and listening to the audio guide) I have learnt:

·        Joachim Tielke is known for building many beautiful stringed instruments for his clients from the court of Cassell in central Germany
·        15 guitars by Tielke have survived the test of time – the V&A in London actually owns 6 of them
·        The body of the guitar is made from pine, which was the cheapest wood and also ensured the best sound
·        Individuals, aspiring to a noble education were required to learn to sing and play musical instruments, guitars such as this one were popular as they allowed the performer to simply strum the strings while singing.

I’m not entirely sure where my fascination of Guitar grew from; it could just be that my love of all things beautiful is abundantly articulated in this gorgeous object. None the less, I am sure everyone has a favourite item in this collection for a host of different reasons. Please do share your thoughts about the exhibition and tell me about your favourite object.

Joachim Tielke
Hamburg, 1693
Ivory and turtle-shell veneer, with engraved marquetry, gilt vellum rosette and carved ivory openwork head
V&A: 676–1872
Photo © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Miller, Lesley 2011 Princely Treasures: European Masterpieces 1600 - 1800 from the Victoria and Albert Museum. V&A Publishing, Hong Kong.



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