American bass viol

William Green (American, active 1798–1817)

Object Place: Medway, Massachusetts, United States


Length 120.5 cm, width 43.3 cm (Length 47 7/16 in., width 17 1/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Maple, pine

Not On View


Americas, Musical Instruments



One-piece back and ribs of slab-cut maple. Belly of wide-grain white pine. Painted purfling, interrupted at top of back by pattern of crosses and dots. Neck and pegbox of maple. Old fingerboard and tailpiece of maple, painted black; tailpiece with saddle and two inlays (heart- and diamond-shaped) of bone. Later tuning pegs of rosewood (?). Two later bridges of maple. Later endpin of steel. Later reddish varnish, with faux woodgraining on back. Internal construction: Footed neck with point at toe; two reinforcing blocks of wood glued alongside. Wide, flat lower block. Regular liners and thin corner blocks.


Handwritten label: Bass Viols made and sold by / William Green Medway / 1807


1940, purchased by Chester W. Hammond (seller's father) for his daughter in Waterville, Maine; since 1941, played by Dorothy Chamberlain, South Paris, Maine; 2009, sold by Chamberlain to the MFA. (Accession Date: March 25, 2009)

Credit Line

Museum purchase with funds donated anonymously