Jelma van Amersfoort
Very little research has been undertaken into guitar-making and playing in the Netherlands. Neither the 17th century nor the 18th has received much attention, though we know that the playing of guitars and similar instruments was an integral part of cosmopolitan cultural life. This article introduces a number of luthiers and their guitars—wire-strung and gut-strung—made in the Netherlands between c.1750 and 1800, a period when concert life began to flourish. In Amsterdam, Johann Swarts, Gosewijn Spijker and Benoit Joseph Boussu were active, while Johannes Cuijpers had his workshop in The Hague. Brief biographies of these makers are given, together with inventories of known instruments. The most remarkable find is undoubtedly the recently rediscovered large five-course guitar made by Gosewijn Spijker. Finally, there is a discussion of who may have bought these guitars—a Greek merchant’s son, a French actress—and how the instruments would have been used.