Viola da gamba Bass

William Turner, London, ca. 1650

Catalog 101. Viola da gamba, bass, William Turner – London, um 1650


Instruments built by William Turner bear labels from 1647 to 1656.



A twin to this viol is to be found in the Museum in Nice, France, which bears a heart-shaped decoration on the back of the scroll, not unlike the rosettes on two of the treble viols in this collection, a characteristic trademark on most, but not all, of the instruments by Turner.



The angel’s head on this bass viol is most likely of Spanish provenance, dating probably from the time of the restoration in Madrid. Indeed English viols and English consort music were much treasured in Spain throughout the 17th. Century.



The twin at the museum in Nice, France, permit an unequivocal identification. This large bass viol is suitable for use in consort. Between 1580 and 1680 the English composed the best chamber music of all of Europe, for between two and seven viols. English music reigned supreme and influenced considerably the development of instrumental music in Germany, France, Flanders and even Spain.

There are three other viols by William Turner in the collection:

William Turner (1. London, 1647): the oldest dated instrument by this maker!
William Turner (2. London, 1656): the youngest dated instrument by this maker!
William Turner (3. London, ca. 1650)

An extremely rare painting of an English bass viola da gamba, ca. 1680 showing an instrument very similar to the Turner.


The Turner bass viol is employed frequently in the performance of English music of the 17th Century.

Here one of our players, Kunihiro Minura, at present studying viola da gamba at the University of Vienna, preparing for a performance with this viol at the Castello di Duino in September of 2005.

And in 2008, with its present proprietor.

Do you wish to hear this instrument?

Mathew Locke: Pavan

Benjamin Hely: Adagio

and not forget to listen to the CD Marin Marais and his World

Body length 730 mm
Upper width
355 mm
Middle width 254 mm
Lower width 412 mm
Rib height 144 mm
String length 740 mm

See also the Audiovisual presentations