Viola da Gamba Concert at the Court of Duke August the Younger of Braunschweig (c. 1650)
The painting below shows a viola da gamba concert in the mid-seventeenth century at the court of Duke August the Younger of Braunschweig (1579-1666). Concerts were no rarity at the duke’s court, for he was one of the most learned and artistically inclined sovereigns of his day. August’s long reign (1635-66) was characterized by a number of domestic achievements: for example, he successfully rebuilt his duchy after the devastation of the Thirty Years War and introduced important church and school reforms. Still, his most enduring contributions came in the realm of literature and culture. An avid reader, he started collecting books as a child and pursued this passion throughout his life. Over time, he amassed a remarkable collection of books, manuscripts, and art objects, which eventually formed the basis of the Wolfenbüttel library, now named Bibliotheca Augusta in his honor. At the time of his death, the library’s collection was among the largest in the world. Oil on canvas by Albert Freyse, c. 1650.