CRESPI, Giuseppe Maria
(b. 1665, Bologna, d. 1747, Bologna)

Woman Playing a Lute

Oil on canvas
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

The lute is a plucked string instrument with a fretted neck and a deep round back. The origins of the lute are obscure. Various types of lutes were in use in ancient cultures. The most important point of transfer of the lute from Muslim to Christian European culture might have been in Sicily, where it was brought either by Byzantine or later by Saracen musicians. Over the course of the Baroque era the lute was increasingly relegated to the continuo accompaniment, and was eventually superseded in that role by keyboard instruments. The lute fell out of use after 1800.

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 2 minutes):
Francesco da Milano: Tre fantasie for lute