One way of measuring the rise of musical knowledge in the 20th and 21st centuries is that far more people know what a viola da gamba is than they did in the 19th century. I had a nice chuckle when I saw this sculpture in the Huntington Library last week.
Albert-Ernest Carrier-Belleus (c. 1824-1887) put a Tourte-style bow (with a rather elegant bow hold) in the hand of this musician, and he placed the instrument in a position that was far more modest than the way the viola da gamba is actually played. How the instrument remains aloft is a mystery to me, but I still love this sculpture.
Here is a nice collection of paintings and drawings of people playing violas da gamba with the appropriate bow.
A few years ago I heard a viol player explain why the instrumet requires an underhanded bow and bow hold. The violin was not considered an instrument for ladies to play because the lifting of the arm (and perhaps exposing the armpit) was considered obscene. It seems that the viola da gamba was considered an instrument appropriate for ladies to play because the powers that were created a bow that made it possible to move the forearm without lifting the upper arm.
Speaking of violas da gamba, there was also a Gainsborough painting of Carl Friedrich Abel (1728-1787) at the Huntington Library.
And here's one of Abel's wonderful solo pieces for viola da gamba: