Un-discarded images: illustrations of antique musical instruments in 17th- and 18th-century books, their sources and transmission

Barker, Naomi (2007). Un-discarded images: illustrations of antique musical instruments in 17th- and 18th-century books, their sources and transmission. Early Music, 35(2) pp. 191–212.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/em/cam029

Abstract

Illustrations of ancient musical instruments appear in encyclopaedias, histories and general books on music from the 17th century onwards. This article examines the origins of some of these images, a number of which may be traced back to the early 17th century and to the so-called ‘Paper Museum’ of Cassiano dal Pozzo. The author also suggests that while later writers may deal critically with the text content of their sources, the illustrations have not been subject to the same level of scrutiny. Reproductions of images appear, often without acknowledgement, over a wide geographical area and considerable chronological span, disseminating visual information that becomes increasingly inaccurate. The lack of concern with illustrative detail sounds a warning about the use information gleaned from pictorial evidence, contained within often authoritative books, and the necessity to examine their sources.

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