Kingdom of Naples XII-XIX (*)

Kingdom of Sicily 1800 (**)


Calabria 1857

  The tradition

"The lute-making activity in Bisignano, small citadel near by Cosenza (Calabria) boasts an ancient tradition. In fact, it bloomed at the court of the Sanseverino Princes when, returned  from the French exile with Carl D' Angiò (in 1226), they re-occupied theirs fievs in Bisignano and in the outskirts.

The lute-makers masters were, above all, devoted to the construction of lutes and guitars. The echo of the oral tradition (generated by the exiguous historical sources confirmed by the testimony of the works produced between the XV and the XVI century and conserved in the national museums and abroad) tells us of splendid and valuable musical instruments (made both for a refined and rich class and for an ever growing popular and sacred demand), produced in great amount to support the competent and spread musical request.

Finally, with the advent of the modern historiography and the possibility to reach documented and reliable sources also in the field of the liuteria, we find again, with certainty, in Bisignano, the activity of the dynasty De Bonis (the most long-lived among the families dedicated to this tradition) which, already productive in the XVIII century with Vincenzo I (1780-1850), through the continuity of its members Antonio I (1809-1863), Paschal I (1818-1852), Michele II (1825-1881), Humble I (1828-1906), Giacinto I (1836-1867), Nicholas I (1842-1895), Francisco I (1850-1927), Antonio II (1874-1950), Rosary I (1876-1953 Giacinto II (1882-1964), and Nicholas III (1918-1978), still today, with Vincenzo II (born in 1929), is strongly  present in the international market.

The analysis of the instruments produced by the family De Bonis allows us to pick the qualitative and quantitative evolution of the liuteria in Bisignano and, more in general,  of the one of all the Italian “Mezzogiorno” starting with  the instruments of the classic quartet  (violin, viola, etc.), the lutes from the Renaissance and the Baroque period to the guitars , the instruments  of the popular tradition (mandolins, mandores, etc.), until the modern classic guitars for concert that, with the determining contribution of  masters Nicholas III and Vincenzo II have been reintroduced to  the top of the international  qualitative production.

Beside the family De Bonis numerous others lute-makers and students were active in Bisignano: among those the Ferrari brothers (Giovan Battista and Francesco), and Master Cariati Vincenzo (1873-1922), descendant of the Ferrari brothers have to be mentioned for their outstanding qualities and notoriety. Both siblings were active in the XIX century and both have been students of Vincenzo  De Bonis".

Gabriele Carletti, Luthier - Pieve di Cento, Bologna



*The Kingdom of Naples is the modern day name for a polity which existed on the southern part of the italian penisula. Also known contemporaneously, and somewhat confusingly, as the Kingdom of Sicily, this kingdom was founded after the secession of the island of Sicily from the old Kingdom of Sicily as a result of the Sicilian Vespers rebellion of 1282. During much of its existence, the Kingdom of Naples was ruled by either the Spanish or the French king.



**The Kingdom of the Two Sicilies(italian: Regno delle Due Sicilie), commonly known as just the Two Sicilies, was the name of a Kingdom in Europe. The most common definition of the kingdom's extent is that it was a uniting of two much older kingdoms in the Mediterranian that had shared some common history: the Kingdom of Naples on the southern part of the Italian Penisula and the Kingdom of Sicily located on the island of Sicily The capital city of the combined kingdom was Naples.

© 2012 Andrea Pontedoro - Master Luthier - Trieste, Italy