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1749, Manufacturer: Wenzel Kowansky




This tortoiseshell violin was evidently intended for display in a kunstkammer: it is an artefact in which outward appearance is all-important. It has always been the aspiration of the craftsman to ´fashion show pieces like this from precious looking materials with physical properties quite unsuited to the making of musical instruments. Wenzel Kowanski, who is otherwise known only as a maker of instrument cases, fused together several layers of tortoiseshell to make two sheets of the material big enough to allow him to fashion the back and the top plate. The arched shape of both plates was produced under heat and pressure. As well as tortoiseshell, Kowanski has used gold thread for the purfling and ivory for the fittings. This showpiece was bought by Maria Theresia for the Schatzkammer (treasure chamber) in 1749. (rh)

Lit.: Rudolf Hopfner: Masterpieces from the Collection of Historic Musical Instruments. A Short Guide through the Kunsthistorisches Museum Vienna, Vol. 1, Vienna 2019

Location: Neue Burg, Sammlung alter Musikinstrumente Saal 13

Object data

Object Name



Austria, Vienna




Dimensions Cover size is a museum or exhibition-specific information. It does not specify the real dimensions of the musical instrument.

Etui: Etui: 710 mm x 260 mm x 100 mm

Image rights

Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, Sammlung alter Musikinstrumente

Inv. No.

Sammlung alter Musikinstrumente, 638

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