Matteo Sellas of Venice who worked between 1620 and 1650 was one of the leading stringed instrument makers of his day. He made this guitar in 1623 for Grand Duke Ferdinand II of Tuscany (1610-1670), then merely a boy of 13. Learning the lute or guitar was considered part of a prince's education at this time, and like other princely instruments this example is lavishly decorated with costly materials like ebony and ivory.
Instead of being discarded, this majestic guitar was later converted into a 'chitarra battente', a wire strung guitar that was usually strummed with a plectrum instead of the fingertips.