Guitar (chitarra battente)

Jacopo Mosca Cavelli (Italian, active 1720s)

Object Place: Perugia, Italy


Length 93 cm, width 24.9 cm, depth 14.5 cm (Length 36 5/8 in., width 9 13/16 in., depth 5 11/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Bloodwood (Brosimum paraense), spruce (Picea abies), walnut (Juglans regia), ivory (Loxodonta africana), mother-of-pearl (Pinctada maxima), tortoiseshell (Eretmochelys imbricate), brass, mastic

On View

Musical Instrument Gallery (Gallery 103D)


Europe, Musical Instruments



Arched back comprised of thirteen ribs of bloodwood, each separated by strip of diamond-shaped pieces of pearl set in black mastic. Sides comprised of five ribs, decorated similarly to back. Two-piece belly of fine-grain spruce, bound with ivory and edged with pieces of pearl similar to back; field decorated with interlacing, foliate designs, and cherub of inlaid tortoiseshell and pearl set in black mastic. Carved rose of walnut. Neck and headstock of bloodwood (?) inlaid with interlacing similar to belly. Front of headstock veneered with ivory, tortoiseshell, and pearl, incorporating heraldic devices of star, dove, and tri-lobed mountain. Tuning pegs of boxwood (?) with buttons of ivory. Fingerboard veneered with tortoiseshell, bound with ivory, and inlaid with pearl in foliate designs. Ten frets of brass with sloped strips of ivory inlaid behind each. Nut of ivory. Bridge (modern) of maple (?) with saddle of ivory. Five pins of brass at lower end of body for fastening strings. Fourteen strings in five courses of one pair and four triples. Internal construction: Two lateral braces on belly (one above soundhole). Ribs lined with pieces of linen and parchment from pages of sacred music.


Inlaid near lower end of belly: IACOBVS MOSCA CAVELLI FECIT; inlaid near upper end of belly: APOC 14 / SICVT CI / THAROEDORVM / CITHARIVM IN CIT / ARISSVIS; handwritten label inside: In Honorem Conceptionis / Be Marie Virginis Corda / Leni pulsate Jacobus Mosca / Cavelli fecit Pisauri fecit / Perusia 1725


After 1725, probably owned by a member of the Chigi or Pamphilj families, Rome, based on the heraldic devices on the headstock. Before 1864, Baron Salomon de Rothschild (1835-1864), Paris, France. December 14, 2001, sold by Daguerre Auction House, Paris, France, to Alain Moatti, Paris, France; 2003, sold by Moatti to the MFA. (Accession Date: March 26, 2003)

Credit Line

Frank B. Bemis Fund and funds donated by William and Deborah Elfers, an anonymous donor, Weston Associates, Leo and Gabriella Beranek, Catherine and Paul Buttenwieser, Richard S. Milstein, Esq., Mrs. Robert B. Newman, and Marlowe and Elise Sigal