Instruments – Mandolino artistico

The difference between the artistic models (No. 7 and No. 8 and to some extent the No. 4, which is often regarded as the artistic variant within the orchestra models) and the other instruments is mainly a matter of a detailed and elaborated decoration. The No. 7 is still very close to the soloist models because the ornamentation consists largely of a sculpted design in a curly pattern of leaves and flowers, sometime figures and/or dragons, at the end clasp and along the sides of the border-ribs.

Mandolino Artistico Model N. 7 / The Artistic Mandolin Model No. 7

Artistical sculpted Embergher Soloist model No.7 (1938) by Domenico Cerrone
A side view of the sculpted Embergher Soloist model No.7 (1938) by Domenico Cerrone

The head stock is made in two types: the flat guitar like model inlayed with ivory displaying flowers, leaves, faces and child like figures and Embergher’s famous ancient lute like design where the neck carries a headstock terminating to a square finial faced in mother of pearl. 

Very similar to the Model No. 4 orchestra mandolin model is the marking of the positions by carved ivory flowers inlayed in the fingerboard. The plain maple neck and headstock of the No. 7 differ from the No. 4 which is completely covered with tortoise shell on gold veneer. Also, and this is just a small but important distinction, the human figures are left out in the head stock decoration of the No. 4 orchestra- and No. 5 soloist mandolin. The image of the dragon can however also be found on the No. 4 and No.6.

Apart from it’s overall design combined with the finest quality of spruce, ebony and maple woods the materials used that give the No. 7 artistic mandolin its gracious appearance, are: tortoise shell on gold veneer and ivory (for instance used for the scratch plate that can (like on the No. 8) either carry a dragon- or human figure(s). An ivory lining is used to border the edge of the sound board of this model.

Mandolino Artistico Model N. 7 / The Artistic Mandolin Model No. 7

Embergher Mandolin Soloist model No.7 (1938) by Domenico Cerrone
Close-up of the ‘Dragon’ scratchplate of the Embergher Mandolin Soloist model No.7 (1938)
by Domenico Cerrone

Noticeable is that the sound table is always in style with the rest of the instrument but left as plain as possible to keep the instrument’s sound as sonorous as possible. Something that is underlined by Silvio Ranieri, one of the finest mandolin virtuosi ever, who was in 1915 given a gold medal winning mandolin made by Embergher himself. It is said that Ranieri found this mandolin superior to all others that he knew. Fortunately I had the opportunity to valuate this very instrument for its insurance at which occasion it proved to be a beautiful crafted artistic carved mandolin model No. 7. This mandolin is particularly interesting because it has a fret board consisting of 31 frets and a zero-fret.

Silvio Ranieri with his Artistic Mandolin Model No. 7 (1900)

The Mandolino Artistico Model No. 8 is an instrument of extremely high quality craftsmanship displaying a variety of precious materials. The back of the sound box, neck and headstock are completely covered with tortoise shell on gold and inlayed with ivory. The ivory is mostly engraved and portrays plant motifs, Cupid personages and dragon images while the fingerboard is totally decorated with a flower design. The scratch plate possibilities are the same as with the No. 7 model. The end clasp and the side-ribs are separated from the rest of the belly by a mother of pearl lining. A similar lining is placed on the edge of the soundboard. Another characteristic of this model are the eye-catching engraved ivory turners of the tuning mechanism placed in the headstock which could be manufactured in either the guitar like model or with the ancient lute like design.

One of the existing Model No. 8 mandolins is most likely one of the mandolins made for exhibitions in order to show the extraordinary artistic skills of the Maestro. The instruments bowl, neck and head are overlaid with tortoise shell and inlayed with extensive fine ivory and mother of pearl. The end clasp is decorated with ivory inlayed dragons while the scratch plate is inlayed with putty of black mastic, representing two figures surrounded by leaves executed in ivory and mother of pearl. The head is mounted with rear-facing ivory turners and of interest because of the, in time, early application of a fingerboard that extends over the sound hole carrying 29 silver-nickel frets.

Mandolino Artistico Model N. 8 / The Artistic Mandolin Model No. 8

Embergher Mandolino Artictico Model No.8 (1895)
Side and base of the Embergher Mandolino Artictico Model No.8 (1895)

Another known to exist example was ordered by the Russian Tsarina Maria Feodorovna (1847 – 1928). Luigi Embergher made a richly decorated Model No. 8 mandolin for her in 1902. Unfortunately the current whereabouts of this this instrument is unknown.

Tsarina Maria Feodorovna – oil on canvas (109 x 74 cm.) painted by the Russian painter Iwan Nikolajewitsch Kramskoi in 1881. The painting is on show in The State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia.

The only known photograph (note the 25 frets fingerboard) of the mandolin Embergher build for Tsarina Maria Feodorovna is preserved in the Embergher-Cerrone Museum della Liuteria in Arpini, Italy.

The Embergher Mandolino Artictico Model No.8 (1902). Photo Courtesy Embergher-Cerrone Museum della Liuteria.

Mandolino Artistico Model N. 8 / The Artistic Mandolin Model No. 8

Mandolino Artistico Model No.8 (c.1900) “Sistema Ginislao Paris” with the ‘Ancient lute’ head. A special feature is the second soundboard inside the bowl; an idea designed by Ginislao Paris and applied by Luigi Embergher in a small number of high-end instruments of the Mandolin family. This particular mandolin is to be found in the collection of the Saint Petersburg Museum of Theatre and Music in Russia.
Photos from the museum catalog – Courtesy of the Saint Petersburg Museum of Theatre and Music, Russia.
A close-up photo of the ‘Dragon’ scratchplate of the Mandolino Artistico Model No.8 “Sistema Ginislao Paris”.
Photo from the museum catalog – Courtesy of the Saint Petersburg Museum of Theatre and Music, Russia.
A close-up photo of the end-clashp of the Mandolino Artistico Model No.8 “Sistema Ginislao Paris”.
Photo from the museum catalog – Courtesy of the Saint Petersburg Museum of Theatre and Music, Russia.
The side of the Mandolino Artistico Model No.8 “Sistema Ginislao Paris”. Photo courtesy of the Saint Petersburg Museum of Theatre and Music (Russia) and published with kind permission of Victor Speranski .
Mandolino Artistico Model No. 8 on the cover of the book ‘Geschiedenis van de Mandoline’ by Robert Janssens


The catalogue states the following about this model:

Mandolino artistico

Mandolino N. 7

Mandolino N. 8

Mandolin deluxe, the sound box completely covered with tortoise shell, the ribs are completely inlayed with ivory and mother of pearl and hollowed out at the bottom. Extremely artistic and rich ornamentation (see photo). This instrument has been given the highest decoration and has been supplied to royal houses. Price negotiable.