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The Violin - Its Famous Makers and Their Imitators
by George Hart
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NADOTTI, Giuseppe, Piacenza. A Violin by this maker was in 1881 exhibited at the Milan Exhibition, dated 1767.

NELLA, Raffaele, Brescia, copied Maggini.

ORTEGA, ——, Madrid, about 1840. Maker and restorer of instruments.

PANDOLFI, Antonio, Venice. A Violin of this make, dated 1719, was among the instruments exhibited at the Milan Exhibition in 1881.

PANORMO, Vincenzo, Palermo, born about 1740, died 1813. This maker was one of the most successful followers of Antonio Stradivari. Panormo and Lupot share the palm as copyists of the great Cremonese master. Neither appears to have attempted to create a model of his own; their sole aim was to imitate to the utmost the various patterns of Stradivari, Guarneri, and Amati, but they principally confined themselves to Stradivari.

Vincenzo Panormo left Italy in early life, and settled for a short time in Paris, from which city a few of his instruments are dated. From Paris he removed to London, where he remained many years. He also visited Ireland, where he made, it is said, several beautiful instruments from an old maple billiard-table, with which he was fortunate enough to meet. He was of a restless temperament, which showed itself in continual self-imposed changes. He would not, or could not, permit his reputation to grow steadily, by residing long in one place, but as soon as fame was within his grasp, he sacrificed the work of years by removing to an entirely new field of labour.

Panormo furnishes us with another example of the certain appreciation, sooner or later, of exceptional talents. No matter how trifling the circumstances under which gifted men have laboured, some time or other their genius is discovered, and acknowledged with its due award, if not of fortune, at least of fame. The peculiar circumstances under which Panormo lived would have been sufficient in the case of most men to dwarf all efforts. Unable to obtain readily that patronage to which his abilities justly entitled him, he removed from city to city, hoping to discover a resting-place, in which favour might attend his art. No doubt this was a mistaken course, and one which robbed his work of the attention which a mind undisturbed by the care of existence can bestow; nevertheless his natural gifts had a vitality that could not entirely be suppressed. He worked and toiled for his art and for bare sustenance alternately. His life, like that of many others in the paths of literature and science, was a continued battle with adversity. Such persons are forced to satisfy daily wants by slaving at work which brings them but little credit in after time, and becomes a standard by which they are too often erroneously judged.

Vincenzo Panormo was the slave of many, manufacturing Double Basses and other instruments from the material selected and purchased by his temporary employer, ofttimes compelled to carry out some crotchet of the patron much against his own wishes. The wood thus forced upon him was often of the worst description; and, in addition, he was frequently obliged to complete his work within a given time. Instruments manufactured under such conditions can scarcely, it may be supposed, add to their maker's reputation. We cannot but regret that he should have been obliged to waste himself on such poor materials. Fortunately, however, in some cases he found time to exercise his skilful powers to their full extent, and has thus bequeathed to us some of the finest specimens of the copyist's art.

His workmanship is of a lighter description than that of Lupot, and is therefore more graceful. The sound-hole is admirably cut, and the scroll also well carved.

PANSANI, Antonio, Rome, 1735.

PASTA, Antonio, Brescia, 1700-1730. Good work. Model a little high; varnish of soft quality.

PASTA, Domenico, Brescia, about 1700.

PAZZINI, Gaetano, Florence, about 1630, pupil of Maggini.

PICINO, Padua, 1712. High model; dark varnish.

PLATNER, Michel, Rome, about 1750. The instruments of this maker resemble those of Tecchler, both in workmanship and varnish.

Michael Platner fecit Romae anno 17—

POLLUSCA, Antonio, Rome, about 1751.

POSTIGLIONE, Vincenzo, Naples, contemporary.

PRESSENDA, Giovanni Francesco, Turin.

Joannes Franciscus Pressenda q. Raphael fecit Taurini Anno Domini 1826.

Born in the year 1777. The Violins bearing the label of Pressenda are excellently made, and in many instances the varnish is superior to that met with on any Violins dated from Italy in the present century. Pressenda appears to have interested himself to some extent in the matter of varnish. In a little book published in Italy[13] there is the following passage: "A pale reflection of the old art (Violin-making) is found in Piedmont, with Guadagnini." The writer continues with the following reference to Pressenda of Turin, who, he remarks, was in his youth at Cremona, "where he collected the traditions of the school as regards modelling and the preparation of the varnish, which is the chief merit of his Violins." It is almost needless to remark that traditional information is frequently unsatisfactory, but particularly so in connection with Cremonese Violin-making and varnishing, near the middle of the last century. In short, the great makers left no other record of the steps they took both in manufacture and in the preparation of their varnish than can be discovered in their works. The instruments of Pressenda present a singular contrast with others of Italian make belonging to this century, most of which evidence what may be termed the throes of a dying manufacture. With Pressenda we appear to have a new departure, in which there is some show of attention having been paid to the work accomplished in the best workshops of Paris. The then condition of Violin-making in Italy made it necessary for any Italian maker—no matter how great his ability—to seek information elsewhere, if desirous of excelling in his art. Pressenda appears to have sought to emulate and even surpass many Parisian makers by associating his name for the most part with good and unsophisticated work. The results of his labours reflect no little credit on his skill and judgment. Pressenda may be styled a born maker of Violins. From an account published by Signor Rinaldi, of Turin, in 1873, we learn that Pressenda was the son of poor parents, who lived in Lequio-Berria, a hamlet in the vicinity of Alba, in Piedmont. His father Raffaele was a strolling fiddler, and gained his precarious livelihood by playing at village fairs and other rejoicings. On these occasions he was accompanied by his son Giovanni, who followed the occupation of his father, playing the Violin with some degree of skill. It was at this period that he appears to have manifested a desire to know something of Violin manufacture, and frequently asked for information from his parent, who, however, was rarely able to satisfy his curiosity. Learning that Cremona was in some way associated with good Violins, he resolved to fiddle his way to that city. There he found Storioni, from whom he obtained some rudimentary knowledge of the manufacture he was so much interested in. Later he removed to Piedmont, and established himself in Alba in 1814, as a maker of Violins. The patronage he gained was, however, insufficient to maintain him, and he combined the business of cabinet-making with his favourite pursuit. After removing to Carmagnola, he went in the year 1820 to Turin, where his abilities were recognised and rewarded. He was encouraged in his manufacture by Giovanni Battista Polledro, the famous Violinist, who, in 1824, became Musical Director of the Royal Orchestra at Turin. Pressenda died in the year 1854 at Turin. His Violins are chiefly of the model of Stradivari. The sound-holes are well cut. The thicknesses of his best instruments are well arranged, and the wood appears to have been selected with good judgment. The scrolls, whilst having much character, are somewhat roughly cut. The Violins belonging to his early period are chiefly of the Amatese character.

[Footnote 13: "L'Italie economique," 1847.]

RACCERIS,——, Mantua, about 1670.

RINALDI, Gioffredo, Turin. (Benedetti, Gioffredo.) Chiefly known as a dealer in Violins. He exhibited a few Violins by Giovanni F. Pressenda at the Vienna Exhibition, 1873, and published a short notice of that maker, which he inscribed to the Archduke Rannieri.

RIVOLTA, Giacomo, Milan, about 1822. Excellent work; scroll well cut. One of the best Italian makers of the nineteenth century.

ROCCA, Joseph Antonio, Piedmont, 1837-1863. Chiefly followed the pattern of Stradivarius. Neat workmanship, varnish rather thin, well-cut scroll. He worked for some time with Pressenda.

RODIANI, Giovita, sometimes called Budiani; Brescia, about 1580-1620. His instruments resemble those of Maggini. Dragonetti is said to have had a Double Bass of this make.

ROTA, Giovanni, Cremona. Yellow varnish, plain wood, heavy work, rough purfling.

Joannes Rota fecit Cremonese Anno 1808.

ROVETTA, Bergamo, 1840-70.

ROGERI, Giovanni Battista, Cremona and Brescia.

Io: Bapt. Rogerius Bon: Nicolai Amati de Cremona Alumnus Brixiae fecit Anno Domini 1705.

The word Bon after his name refers to his having been a citizen of Bologna. Vincenzo Lancetti speaks of its being certain that he called himself Bononiensis. The instruments of this maker are of a different pattern from those of Francesco Ruggeri. They are higher modelled, the sound-holes less elegant, and the scroll heavier. They possess, however, high merits, and command prices nearly equivalent to those of the instruments of Francesco. The labels of this maker are sometimes met with printed in red ink. The instruments he made of large Amati pattern are highly valued. He appears to have worked from about the close of the seventeenth century. Count Cozio di Salabue and Lancetti speak of G. B. Rogeri having worked down to 1723, and possibly later, and state that he lived for many years in Brescia. There are some instruments bearing original Amati labels of this make, made, doubtless, when he was in the shop of Amati.

ROGERI, Pietro Giacomo, Brescia, describes himself on his label as a pupil of Niccolo Amati. Lancetti refers to a Violoncello by Pietro Rogeri as having belonged to Count Cozio, and remarks that he was a "nearly unknown member of the Rogeri family." The date of the instrument is given as 1714. He cannot now be looked upon as almost unknown, since Signor Piatti played for many years upon a famous Violoncello of his make. The pattern is a little narrower than that of G. B. Rogeri. Varnish of beautiful quality; sound-hole resembles that of Francesco Ruggeri.

RUGGERI, Francesco, Cremona, 1668-1720.

Francesco Ruggeri detto il Per Cremona 16—

Surnamed "Il Per." The family of Ruggeri long occupied a foremost place in the city of Cremona as makers of Violins, Tenors, and Violoncellos. Their position must have been but little inferior to that of the Amati family. Francesco, in his earliest works, gives evidence of exceptional artistic feeling, and the sequel of his career, as evidenced by his productions, is a genuine development of the first impulses of his genius. His work belongs to the school of Amati, but though the list of instruments which he has bequeathed to us be a long one, there is no sign of his ever having been a mere copyist. He evidently thought for himself. His sound-hole is a beautiful piece of workmanship, and may be said to come between that of Niccolo Amati and Stradivari, being of the most delicate execution. The outline of his work is very graceful, and the arching admirable. The scroll has quite an equal merit with the body. He was very successful in selecting his material, much of which is handsome. His varnish, thoroughly Cremonese in character, and of a most beautiful hue, may be equalled, but never surpassed. This maker also knew how to use his varnish. There is no instance in which it has been laid on in clumsy patches; the surface is always true and even, and, in consequence, the brilliancy of its appearance is perfect. Lancetti remarks, "Francesco Ruggeri was a pupil of Niccolo Amati, and perhaps a more exact imitator of his instruments than G. B. Rogeri, and made several instruments, beautifully finished, and which are not easily distinguished from those of his master." Count Cozio possessed a fine Violin by Francesco, dated 1684, and the Marquis Castiglioni also possessed one made in the same year. Francesco Ruggeri died at the house No. 7, Contrada Coltellai, Cremona.

RUGGERI, Giacinto detto Il Per, Cremona. Son of Francesco Ruggeri. A Violoncello bearing this label is in the possession of Mr. G. Foster Cooke:

Giacinto filio di Francesco Ruggeri detto il Per 1696.

RUGGERI, Vincenzo, Cremona, also uses the name "Il Per." Worked from about 1700 to 1730. He appears to have made many Violoncellos.

Vincenzo Ruger detto il Per in Cremona 17—

RUGGERI, Giambattista, Cremona. About 1693. Also called himself Il Per. Lancetti suggests that this maker was a relative of Francesco. He made several Violoncellos of large size and deep sides, the wood of which is often plain. The varnish is of good quality and dark brown colour. He also made Violins and Tenors, the latter being excellent instruments.

SACCHINI, Sebastiano.

Sebastino Sacchni da Pesaro l'anno 1686.

SALO, Gasparo da.

Gasparo da Salo Brescia.

His real name was Gasparo dei Bertolotti. The researches of Cavalliere Livi, keeper of the Brescian Archives, have brought to light much valuable information as to this famous maker. He was born in the town of Salo (Province of Brescia) in or about the year 1542, died there on the 14th of April, 1609, and was buried in the church of San Joseffo. A son (Francesco) appears to have worked with him and to have died in 1614. Several Viols of Gasparo's workmanship, of different sizes, are still extant. The Violins are very rare. A few large Violas exist, the tone of which is magnificent. His genuine labels bear no date. Gio Paolo Maggini was apprenticed to him, and is believed to have purchased the business, after Gasparo's death, from his son Francesco.

To Gasparo da Salo belongs the credit of having laid the foundation of the Italian style of Violin-making. In his works may be traced the gradual development of the system upon which his followers built their reputation, viz., a well-defined model, excellent materials, and choice varnish. It is to be regretted that his immediate followers, with the exception of Paolo Maggini, departed from the path so successfully trodden by this great pioneer. But for this deviation, the works of the early Amati and a few others would have occupied a higher position than that which they now command. They were men possessing great abilities, and might easily have carried out the designs of the great Brescian maker. They appear, however, to have arrived at a different conclusion, as regards the form of their instrument, from that shaped by Gasparo da Salo. Their works show an evident preference for the high model, and thus undid much that Gasparo had accomplished. It is clear that Gasparo only arrived at his conclusions after painstaking labour, for he commenced with the high form, and gradually, as experience taught, lowered it. It is, further, remarkable that the latter members of the Amati family pursued the same course as Andrea Amati (though in a less degree), after which they awoke, as it were, to the reasonableness of the example set by Gasparo, and gave us those instruments so highly thought of by the connoisseur, the form of which has much in common with that adopted by Niccolo Amati and perfected by Antonio Stradivari.

It has been before remarked that Gasparo da Salo did not arrive at his conclusions without mature consideration. In fact, a long and deliberate process of experiment may be traced in his instruments. We find that at times his Violins and Violas were treated differently from the Accordos and Violonos. The Violins are found to be high in model, while the above-named instruments, evidently of the same date, are flat. He would seem to have been desirous of testing the powers of either model, and it is possible that he fostered the idea of varying the construction of each of the four species in the family of stringed instruments according to the part which should be allotted to it. To treat each part of the stringed quartette in a different way is certainly an error, for they are to be looked upon as gradations of one and the same instrument; nevertheless, the attempt of Gasparo, although mistaken, offers but another instance of his prolific ingenuity and unwearied diligence. An praise is due to the great Brescian maker for having opened up, as a pioneer, so wide a field of research. The Cremonese artists followed up his clue, and brought the Violin to the highest state of excellence.



The chief characteristics of the works of Gasparo da Salo are the sound-holes, shortened centre-bouts, scroll, and peculiar choice of material. The length of the sound-hole at first strikes one as somewhat crude, but as the eye becomes more acquainted with the general form of the instrument, it is seen to be in perfect harmony with the primitive outline. With this sound-hole commences the pointed form to which Giuseppe Guarneri, nearly a century and a half later, gave such perfection. The material used for the larger instruments is mostly pear-wood, or wood of that description, the quality of which is particularly fine. In the selection of this wood he showed a still minuter discrimination, using it generally for Accordos and Violonos, and not for Violins or Violas; few specimens of the latter have backs of pear-wood. His work was bold, but not highly finished; no other result could be looked for at so early a date. The grain of the bellies is usually very even and well defined. Signor Dragonetti, the late eminent Double-Bass player, possessed three or four Double-Basses by this maker of various sizes. The most celebrated of these instruments was presented to him by the monks of the monastery of St. Mark's, Venice, about the year 1776, and was returned to the Canons of that Church (the monks and the monastery having been suppressed since the French occupation of Venice in 1805 or 1809) after Dragonetti's death, in 1846. Another was bequeathed by Dragonetti to the late Duke of Leinster. A third is in the possession of the Rev. George Leigh Blake. Among his chamber Double-Basses the one formerly belonging to Mr. Bennett is regarded as a singularly perfect example. It was numbered with the rarities of Luigi Tarisio's collection, and highly valued by him as a specimen of the maker. Among his Violins, the instrument formerly owned by Lord Amherst, of Hackney, is unique; the infancy of the Violin at this period is better seen here than any specimen with which I am acquainted. The Violin of this make which belonged to Ole Bull, and with which I am familiar, is another well-known example. This instrument is characteristic of its author. Its varnish is soft-looking and rich, though paler than usual. The finger-board is inlaid, and is made of a light description of wood. The head is carved and painted, and is a very choice piece of Italian work.

SANONI, Giovanni Battista, Verona. About 1740. His instruments are seldom met with in England. High model.

SANTO, Giovanni, Naples, 1700-30. Copied Amati. Varnish very hard, and workmanship indifferent.

SANZO, Milan. Middle and early eighteenth century. Similar to Grancino.

SARDI, ——, Venice, 1649. A broken Violin bearing this name was at the Milan Exhibition, 1881.

SEIGHER, Girolamo. Worked in the shop of Niccolo Amati from 1680 to 1682.

SELLAS, Matteo, Lute-maker. M. Chouquet, in his "Catalogue Raisonne" of the instruments at the Paris Conservatoire, mentions two Arch-Lutes made by this maker.

SERAFINO, Santo, Udine—Venice, 1710-48.

Sanctus Seraphin utinensis Fecit Venetijs Ann. 17—

This maker is chiefly famed for the exquisite finish of his workmanship. The modelling of his instruments varied. There are instances, particularly in the case of his Violins, where he has entirely set aside the Stainer form, and copied Amati. These Violins are wonderfully like the work of Francesco Ruggeri. The varnish upon them, of a rich red colour, is of so exceptional a quality, that one is compelled to look twice before being satisfied as to the author. The greater number, however, of his instruments are of the German character, the sound-hole, scroll, and outline all hinting of Stainer. These Venetians were wonderfully fortunate in obtaining handsome wood, and in this respect Santo Serafino was pre-eminent, for his sides and backs are simply beautiful to perfection. His method of cutting the wood was invariably to show the grain in even stripes. The scroll is well cut in point of workmanship, but the style is poor. Santo Serafino cannot be regarded as having displayed originality in any shape, and he thus forms an exception to the great majority of Italian makers. His instruments are either copies of Amati or of Stainer; there is, of course, a strong Italian flavour about his Stainer copies, which lifts them above the German school of imitators, and hence their higher value. Nearly all his instruments were branded with his name above the tail-pin. He used an ornamental label of large size. The Violoncello in the possession of Mr. M. J. Astle is a charming specimen of Serafino's work, I may say unequalled.

SNEIDER, Josefo, Pavia. Lancetti remarks that many of the Violins by Girolamo Amati, son of Niccolo, were attributed to this maker.

Joseph Sneider Papiae Alumnus Nicolai Amati Cremonae fecit Anno 17—

SOCCHI, Vincenzo, 1661, Bologna. In the Catalogue of M. Chouquet mention is made of a Kit or Pochette by this maker in the Paris Conservatoire.

SORSANA, Giuseppe, 1700-1750. Said to have been a pupil of Stradivari. Highly finished work, varnish of beautiful quality.

Joseph Sorsana fecit Cremone sub discip. Ant. Stradivarii 1737.

STATLEE, Anderl, Genoa, about 1714. Signed himself as a pupil of Hieronymus Amati (son of Niccolo). Not unlike the work of Urquhart.

STREGNER, Magno, Venice, Lute-maker.

STORIONI, Lorenzo, Cremona, about 1769 to 1799.

Laurentius Storioni Fecit Cremonae 17—

The last of the old makers who evinced any marked degree of originality. Although there is an almost total absence of refinement in his works, there is much that is clever, which has gradually caused these instruments to be valued very highly. He appears to have made Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesu his idol. Although his instruments cannot be considered as copies, yet there is evidence of his having made use of the salient points belonging to Guarneri, which he fitted, as it were, to his own model. He had much of the disregard of mere appearance which Guarneri so often displayed, and seems to have been guided by similar fancies. His freak was to place his sound-holes in all sorts of ways, scarcely twice alike. His outline is always vigorous, but without thought of symmetrical appearance. There is not an instrument of his make that could have been made upon a mould—they were built from the blocks, and the result, as may be expected, is not graceful. M. Vieuxtemps, some years ago, possessed himself of a Storioni Violin, now belonging to Mr. Proctor, and, having carefully regulated it, succeeded in bringing forth its great powers. His hearers were so delighted that attention was speedily directed to this neglected maker. These instruments are highly thought of in Italy. The varnish is not of the Cremonese description, but partakes of the Neapolitan character. The purfling is unusually narrow, and roughly worked; the scroll is stiff, and the absence of finish is observable. The material he used was generally good in point of acoustical properties, though not handsome. Storioni does not appear to have made many Tenors or Violoncellos—the latter are rarely met with.

Storioni died in 1799. He lived at the house No. 3, Contrada Coltellai, which was afterwards occupied by G. B. Ceruti.

STRADIVARI, Antonio, Cremona.

"The instrument on which he played Was in Cremona's workshops made, By a great master of the past, Ere yet was lost the art divine; Fashioned of maple and of pine, That in Tyrolian forests vast Had rocked and wrestled with the blast; Exquisite was it in design, A marvel of the lutist's art, Perfect in each minutest part; And in its hollow chamber, thus, The maker from whose hands it came Had written his unrivalled name— 'Antonius Stradivarius.'"—LONGFELLOW.

Antonius Stradiuarius Cremonensis Faciebat Anno 17—

The renown of this remarkable maker of Violins is beyond that of all others; his praise has been sung alike by poet, artist, and musician. His magic name is ever rising to the lips in the presence of the "king of instruments"; its sound is as familiar to the humble player as to the finished artist. He has received the undisputed homage of two centuries, and time seems but to add to the number and devotion of his liege subjects: to-day he is as little likely to be dethroned as Shakespeare.

Although many interesting particulars concerning Antonio Stradivari have been obtained from time to time, there is wanting that which alone can fully satisfy his admirers, viz., connected records of the chief events of his life. Every endeavour has been made to supply, in some way, this deficiency, by consulting documents relating to the city of Cremona during the 17th and 18th centuries. The results of these inquiries are of much value, and the reader will be made acquainted with them in the following pages.

With a patience worthy of reward, the late librarian at Cremona, Professor Peter Fecit, searched for the will of Stradivari, but as no proper register appears to have been kept until long after the famous maker died, his efforts were unsuccessful. Although the contents of the will might throw but a faint light upon the doings of the testator, there might be found particulars that would link together much of the information we already possess.

The date of birth of Antonio Stradivari was made known to M. Fetis in 1856,[14] upon evidence contained in an inventory of instruments which belonged to Count Cozio di Salabue. The inventory was made upon the occasion of the instruments being deposited with Carlo Carli, a Milanese banker. Among the Violins there appears to have been one by Antonio Stradivari, bearing a label upon which, in the handwriting of its maker, was stated his age, namely, ninety-two years, and the date 1736; thus making the year of birth 1644.

"That plain white-aproned man who stood at work, Patient and accurate, full fourscore years, Cherished his sight and touch by temperance; And, since keen sense is love of perfectness, Made perfect Violins, the needed paths For inspiration and high mastery." Stradivari, by GEORGE ELIOT.

[Footnote 14: "Antoine Stradivari, luthier celebre," par F. I. Fetis. Paris, 1856.]

Previous to the publication of this evidence by M. Fetis, the date of birth was given as 1664, and it has been stated as 1644 or 1650. Don Paolo Lombardini, in his pamphlet on Stradivari published at Cremona in 1872, gives an interesting genealogical account of the great Cremonese maker and his family. The author follows the date of birth as stated by M. Fetis. This is succeeded by information of his own discovery, namely, the date of the marriage of Stradivari, July 4, 1667.

He appears to have married a widow named Capra, whose maiden name was Ferraboschi, her age being twenty-seven, and that of Stradivari twenty-three, according to the date given by Lombardini.

GENEALOGICAL TABLE OF THE FAMILY OF STRADIVARI, EXTRACTED FROM THE PAMPHLET OF PAOLO LOMBARDINI.

STRADIVARI, ALESSANDRO = MORONI, ANNA STRADIVARI, GIUSEPPE J., born March 20, 1623. STRADIVARI, ANTONIO, born 1644; died Dec. 18, 1737. = Married, July 4, 1667 = FERRABOSCHI, FRANCESCA, born Oct. 7, 1640; died May 25, 1698. (1) GIULIO, born Dec. 23, 1667; married, 1688; died Aug. 7, 1707. (2) FRANCESCO, born Feb. 6, 1670; died Feb. 12, 1670. (3) FRANCESCO, born Feb. 1, 1671; died May 11, 1743. (4) CATTERINA, born Feb. 18, 1674; died Aug. 3, 1748. (5) ALESSANDRO, born May 25, 1677; died Jan. 26, 1732. (6) OMOBONO, born Nov. 14, 1679; died June 9, 1742. = Married, second time, Aug. 24, 1699. = ZAMBELLI, ANTONIA, born June 11, 1664 died March 3, 1737. (7) FRANCESCA, born Sept. 19, 1700; died Feb. 11, 1720. (8) G. B. GIUSEPPE, born Nov. 6, 1701; died June 7, 1702. (9) G. B. MARTINO, born Nov. 11, 1703; died Nov. 1, 1727. (10) GIUSEPPE, born Oct. 27, 1704; (Priest) died Nov. 29, 1781. (11) PAOLO, born Jan. 26, 1708; (Cloth Merchant) died Oct. 19, 1776. = TEMPLARI, ELENA, born 1705; died 1776. ANTONIO II., born 1738; died 1789. = DALLA NOCE, MARGARITA, born 1739; died 1787. GIUSEPPE, born 1763. LUIGIA, born 1765. FRANCESCA, born 1767. GIACOMO, born 1769; died 1828. = Married, 1797. = CORNIERI, GIUSEPPA, died Jan. 25, 1803. CESARE, born 1798 (Physician). = Married, 1838. = MAINI, LAVINIA, born 1808; died 1862. LIBERO, born Jan. 29, 1840 (Barrister). = Married, 1867. = PODESTA, GIOVANNA, born 184-. CLELIA, born 1868. ANNITA, born 1871. ITALO, born 187-. PIETRO, born 1800; died 1869. GIUSEPPE, born 1802. = Married, 1836. = CRISTINI, MARIA, born 1807. FANNY. EUFEMIA. ENRICO. = Married, second time, 1821. = BONAZZI, ROSALINDA, born 1792. GIACOMA 2nd, born 1822; (of Milan). = Married, 1861. = ROSSI, FANNY, born 1835. ELENA. SILVIA. PIERINA. FAUSTO. ANTONIA, born 1771; died 1816. FRANCESCA, born 1739; died 1809 (Nun). CARLO, born Dec. 4, 1741; died 1808. FRANCESCO, born 1744; died 1746. PAOLO, born 1746; died 1792.

It is interesting to find evidence of some importance relative to the question of the age of Stradivari from the pen of Lancetti. He says, "Antonio having worked to the age of ninety-three years, died in Cremona in the year 1738, at the age of ninety-four years." Though this is obviously incorrect (the register showing that he died in 1737), the extract serves to support the date of birth, resting upon the evidence of the inventory, inasmuch as it satisfactorily shows the age Stradivari was considered to be by his own family, since Count Cozio communicated the information to Lancetti from correspondence with Paolo Stradivari, son of Antonio. In passing, it may be observed that Stradivari died December 18, 1737, and therefore the year mentioned by his son Paolo was only incorrect by thirteen days. He was equally as near the truth in saying his father was ninety-four when he should have said he was in his ninety-fourth year.

Having referred to the manuscript inventory, upon which rests the date of birth as given by Fetis—which document, taken by itself, it must be said is unsatisfactory—and having noticed the age of Stradivari as represented by his son, I will turn to other evidence in support of the inventory. The late Mr. Muntz, of Birmingham, possessed a Violin by Stradivari, dated 1736, and, in writing, the age of the maker is given as ninety-two. Another Violin by Stradivari, made in the same year, and similarly labelled, was bequeathed by the late Mrs. Lewis Hill to the Royal Academy of Music. This Violin has been regarded as one of the instruments found in the maker's shop when he died. It originally belonged to Habeneck, the well-known professor, and was taken to Paris between the years 1824 and 1830. Luigi Tarisio became possessed of some of the instruments mentioned in the inventory found among the papers of Carlo Carli, the banker, and one of these Violins in all probability furnished the evidence of the date of birth referred to by M. Fetis, and both instruments were probably purchased by Tarisio, together with the Violin dated 1716, named by Vuillaume "le Messie."[15] The last instrument necessary to notice in confirmation of the date, hitherto resting alone on the inventory, was in the possession of the late M. H. de St. Sennoch, of Paris. It is dated 1737, and in the handwriting of Stradivari is his age, ninety-three years, which decides the correctness of the statement made by Lancetti (upon the authority of Count Cozio di Salabue, who received the information from Paolo Stradivari in 1775) that "Antonio worked up to the age of ninety-three years."

[Footnote 15: The information which M. Fetis gives of this Violin was based on the inventory of Carlo Carli. It is also mentioned in the correspondence between Count Cozio and Lancetti.]

In the absence of direct information concerning the life of Stradivari, we must turn to his instruments for such evidence as we require; and these, happily, give us a greater insight into his career than would be readily imagined. I am not aware that any Violin of Stradivari is known in which it is stated that he was a pupil of Niccolo Amati, or that the assumption has been maintained on any other grounds than the indisputable evidence furnished by the early instruments of this great maker.[16] Never has affinity in the art of Violin manufacture been more marked than that between Stradivari and Niccolo Amati during the early life of the former. I have, in another place, remarked upon the almost invariable similarity occurring between the works of master and pupil, and have used this canon in refutation of the doctrine that Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesu was ever a pupil of Antonio Stradivari. Lancetti states that the instruments of Stradivari made in 1665, and others in 1666, bear the label of Niccolo Amati, and instances one that was in the collection of Count Cozio, to which Stradivari made a new belly, many years later, in his best style. It is certain that instruments as described by Lancetti have been recognised by intelligent connoisseurs as wholly the work of Stradivari (in which case, as may be imagined, they have no longer been allowed to sail under false colours, but have had their proper certificate of birth attached to them). In other instances the beautiful scroll of Stradivari has been recognised on the body of an Amati, or the sound-hole has shown that it was cut by the hand of Stradivari.

[Footnote 16: Upon reference to Lancetti's MSS., I find that he states Stradivari used a label with the words "Nicolai Amati Alumnus," about 1666.]

Having met with a Violin by Stradivari (since the publication of the first edition of this work) dated 1666, it would appear that he left the workshop of his master at that time, or not later than the year of his marriage in 1667. The extracts obtained by Canon Bazzi from the parish registers, relative to the pupils of Niccolo Amati, help to establish the correctness of this view. Stradivari must have been in the workshop of his master between the years 1658 and 1666. We have no information of the pupils of Amati from 1654 to 1665. In 1666 the name of Giorgio Fraiser is given; consequently Stradivari must have left previous to 1666 or early in that year, and prior to the registration. Between the years 1666 and 1672 there is observable a marked change in style, and the workmanship is better. The instruments he made about this period have wood for the most part singularly plain, and different in kind from what his master used. His use of this material I am disposed to attribute to the want of means rather than choice. The purfling of these early instruments is very narrow, and many of the backs are cut slab-form. Previous to about the year 1672, we find that his whole work is in accordance with the plans of Amati (not as seen in the latter's grand pattern, but in his ordinary full-sized instrument); the arching is identical, the corners are treated similarly, the sound-hole is quite Amati-like in form, yet easily distinguished by its extreme delicacy, the scroll a thorough imitation of Amati, and presenting a singular contrast to the vigorous individuality which Stradivari displayed in this portion of his work a few years later. Enough has been said to enable the reader to recognise the connection which must have existed between Amati and Stradivari, to admit of such marked resemblances. Taking the instruments of Stradivari as beacons throwing light upon many curious and interesting points of the maker's manufacture, the number and character of his Violins and Violoncellos made during the decade following 1674 is indicative of his having increased both his reputation and his patronage. The last year of this period, namely 1684, was that in which his master, Niccolo Amati, died, at the age of eighty-eight. We have already seen, in the notice of Amati, that Niccolo was the last member of the family who maintained unbroken the long chain of associations connected with the house of Amati, extending over a period of a century and a half. The circumstance of all the tools, patterns, and models of Niccolo Amati having passed into the possession of his pupil Stradivari, and not into that of his son Girolamo (who was then thirty-five years of age), clearly shows that the son did not succeed to his father's business. We are thus led to believe that during the ten years above referred to, Niccolo Amati had been gradually lessening his activity, and that the patronage so long enjoyed by the Amati family fell for the most part to his gifted pupil, Antonio Stradivari. Among the interesting items of information supplied by the efforts of Paolo Lombardini, relative to Stradivari, is that of the purchase of the house, in 1680, of the Brothers Picenardi for seven thousand imperial lire, equivalent to above 800 pounds in present English money. This purchase, made about fourteen years after Stradivari began to manufacture on his own account, well marks the progress he made. I have, however, further proof of his fame and prosperity at this period in the valuable extracts from the manuscript of Desiderio Arisi, at Cremona.



The knowledge Arisi had of Stradivari is shown by the following remarks written by him in the year 1720. He says, "In Cremona is also living my intimate friend Antonio Stradivari, an excellent maker of all kinds of musical instruments.[17] It will not be out of place to make special mention of his merits. His fame is unequalled as a maker of instruments of the finest qualities, and he has made many of extraordinary beauty, which are richly ornamented with small figures, flowers, fruits, arabesques, and graceful interlaying of fanciful ornaments, all in perfect drawing, which he sometimes paints in black or inlays with ebony and ivory, all of which is executed with the greatest skill, rendering them worthy of the exalted personages to whom they are intended to be presented. I have thought proper, therefore, to mention some works of this great master, in testimony of the high esteem and universal admiration which he enjoys." These prefatory remarks of Arisi are followed by several important statements, which I have arranged in accordance with the different periods it will be necessary to refer to in the course of this notice.

[Footnote 17: Mention is made by Lancetti that in the year 1820 the Marquis Carlo dal Negro, of Genoa, possessed a Harp bearing the name of Stradivari. Mandolines and other stringed instruments have been seen with his name attached.]

"In the year 1682, on the 8th of September, the banker Michele Monzi, of Venice, sent him an order for the whole set of Violins, Altos, and Violoncellos which that gentleman sent as a present to King James of England."[18] The interesting remarks of Arisi with regard to the inlaid instruments of Stradivari are those we should expect from an admirer of delicate artistic work, who possessed no special knowledge of Violins as instruments of music. The existence of some of the instruments to which he refers, together with the tracings of the actual designs and the tools with which the work was accomplished, render his observations, read at this distance of time, peculiarly pleasing. The possessor of the models, tools, labels, and drawings used by Stradivari is the Marquis Dalla Valle, of Casale, to whom they passed by inheritance from his great-uncle, Count Cozio, who purchased them in 1775.

[Footnote 18: These instruments were probably sent to England in 1685, or later.]



Vincenzo Lancetti, referring to the collection, after mention of Stradivari having been buried in the Church of S. Domenico, continues, "As appears from the correspondence held in 1775, by the said Count Cozio with Antonio's son Paolo Stradivari, cloth merchant, when the former bought of the latter all the remaining Violins, the forms, the patterns, moulds, and drawings of the said celebrated Antonio, as well as those of the Amati, with which he enriched his collection." In an article published in the "Gazzetta Piedmontese," October, 1881, upon the occasion of the exhibition, at Milan, of the relics of the shop of Stradivari, the writer gives the following account of the negotiations: "Count Cozio, a great patron, intimate with the greatest artists of the period, especially with Rolla, purchased, through the instrumentality of the firm of merchants, Anselmi di Briata, from Paolo and Antonio junior, respectively son and nephew of Antonio Stradivari, in 1776, all the tools, drawings, labels, &c., which had been used by the celebrated Violin-maker, and his heirs, who were desirous that nothing belonging to him should remain in his native town, as it is inferred, from a curious document, hastened to conclude the sale."[19] It is certain, however, that Lancetti received his information from the Count himself, and negotiations were certainly carried on between Paolo and the Count, either directly or through his agents, Anselmi di Briata.

[Footnote 19: Upon reference to the copy of this document (the correspondence is given in the fourth edition of this work), I find the words used by Paolo Stradivari to his correspondents Anselmi di Briata run, after commenting upon the price offered, "However, to show my desire to please you, and in order that not a single thing belonging to my father be left in Cremona, &c.," having reference, possibly, to some supposed feeling of indifference on the part of the municipal authorities towards the memory of Antonio Stradivari, they not having secured the moulds, patterns, &c.]

The contents of the letters of Paolo and Antonio Stradivari junior, which the Marquis Dalla Valle has placed at my disposal, serve to explain the two different accounts above given. We find that the Count had two distinct transactions, directly or indirectly, with the family of Stradivari. In 1775 he purchased the ten instruments made by Antonio which remained out of ninety-one (complete and partly finished) left by the maker at the time of his death in 1737. The payment in connection with this transaction was arranged by the banker Carlo Carli, which gave rise to the inventory upon which M. Fetis based his statement as to the age of Stradivari. In the month of May, 1776, negotiations were entered upon with Paolo Stradivari, relative to the tools, which led to their being sold. During their progress Paolo died, October, 1776, and the business was left for his son Antonio to complete in December, 1776. The copies of the letters written by Paolo and Antonio Stradivari are given in the fourth edition of this work, and the chief part of the matter therein is referred to in the Section, "The Violin and its Votaries."

The next period to be noticed relative to the work of Stradivari is that dating from 1686 to 1694. We here observe a marked advance in every particular. The form is flatter, the arching differently treated. The sound-hole, which is a masterpiece of gracefulness, reclines more. The curves of the middle bouts are more extended than in this maker's later instruments. The corners are brought out, though not prominently so. Here, too, we notice the change in the formation of the scroll. He suddenly leaves the form that he had hitherto imitated, and follows the dictates of his own fancy. The result is bold and striking, and foreshadows much of the character belonging to the bodies of the instruments of his latter period, and though it may seem daring and presumptuous criticism, I have often been impressed with the idea that these scrolls would have been more in harmony with his later works than those to which they belong. The varnish on the instruments belonging to the period under consideration is very varied. Sometimes it is of a rich golden colour, deliciously soft and transparent; in other instances he has used varnish of a deeper hue, which might be described as light red, the quality of which is also very beautiful. The purfling is a trifle wider, but narrower than that afterwards used.

From the, Arisi MSS. we have the following interesting information relative to this period:—

"In the year 1685, on the 12th of March, Cardinal Orsini, Archbishop of Benevento,[20] ordered a Violoncello and two Violins, which were sent as a present to the Duke of Natalona, in Spain. The Cardinal, besides paying liberally for the work, wrote an appreciative acknowledgment of their merits, and appointed the artist to the place of one of his private attendants." It may be remarked that the honour conferred upon Stradivari was equivalent to appointing him maker to the Archbishop.

[Footnote 20: Vincenzo Maria Orsini (of the illustrious family of the Orsinis, Dukes of Gravina), born 1648, in the Neapolitan province of Bari, was a learned professor of theology, and visited, between 1668 and 1672, several cities and towns, among others Naples, Bologna, Venice, Brescia, and most likely Cremona, where he held conferences, which were largely attended. He was created a Cardinal by Clement X., in 1672, Archbishop in 1675 in Manfredonia, in 1680 to Cesena, in 1686 to Benevento and Porto. In 1724 he was elected Pope, under the name of Benedict XIII., and remained on the Pontifical throne until February, 1730, when he died, aged eighty-one.]

"In the same year, on the 12th of September, Bartolomeo Grandi, called Il Fassina, leader of the Court Orchestra of His Royal Highness the Duke of Savoy,[21] ordered of Stradivari a whole set of instruments for the Court Orchestra."

[Footnote 21: Victor Amadeus II., Duke of Savoy and King of Sardinia, was the Prince for whom Bartolomeo Grandi ordered the concerto of instruments.]

"In the year 1686, on the 5th of April, His Serene Highness the Duke of Modena (Francesco II. D'Este was then twenty-six years of age) ordered a Violoncello, which, by special invitation, Stradivari was requested to take to the Duke himself, who told him how pleased he was to make his personal acquaintance, praised greatly his work, and beyond the sum agreed paid him thirty pistoles (golden Spanish) as a present."

On the 22nd of August, 1686, Marquis Michele Rodeschini ordered a Viol da Gamba to be sent to King James II. of England.

In the year 1687 he made the set of instruments for the Spanish Court, inlaid with ivory, and having a beautiful scroll work running round the sides and scroll. Arisi evidently refers to this event in the following extract: "On the 19th of January, 1687, the Marquis Niccolo Rota ordered a Violoncello for the King of Spain." One of the Violins of this set was purchased in Madrid about thirty years since by Ole Bull. The Tenor belonging to this quatuor has lost its ivory work, a blemish which is to be regretted. He also made, about this period, some very small Violins with similar designs, instruments evidently made to order.

"On the 7th of August of the same year, 1687, the nobleman Don Agostino Daria, General-in-Chief of the Spanish Cavalry in Lombardy, while he was residing in Cremona, obtained from him a Violoncello."

We now reach the year 1690, in connection with which Arisi has supplied information of singular interest. He says: "On the 19th of September, 1690, Stradivari received the following letter from the Marquis Bartolommeo Ariberti,[22] a Cremonese nobleman—'The other day I made a present of the two Violins and the Violoncello which you made for me to His Highness the Prince of Tuscany;[23] and I assure you, to my great satisfaction, he has accepted them with such pleasure that more I could not expect. The members of his orchestra—and he possesses a select number—were unanimous in expressing their great appreciation, declaring the instruments quite perfect, and, above all, exclaiming with one voice that they had never heard a Violoncello with such an agreeable tone. For the highly flattering reception with which my present has been received by His Highness, and which I cannot sufficiently describe, I am principally indebted to the care which you have used in the manufacture of the instruments. At the same time I hope to have by this present shown you my appreciation, and of having acquired the merit of practically bringing to the knowledge of such a personage the truth of your great skill, which will procure you, undoubtedly, many orders from this exalted house. To prove this, I have now to request you to begin at once two Tenors, one Tenor and the other Contralto, which are wanted to complete the concerto.'"[24]

[Footnote 22: The Marquis of Ariberti was born in 1666, and died 1724. He was an elegant writer, and a member of several literary academies. He was for some time in Tuscany. Upon returning to Cremona, where he settled, he built in 1687, at his own expense, a theatre called after his own name, Ariberti. He, being a passionate lover of music, was anxious to have in his own establishment (the theatre adjoining his palace) a place of amusement for himself and his family. About the year 1710 he gave up the building to a religious brotherhood, and a church was built on the site, and used until 1798, when the brotherhood was suppressed, and, by a singular coincidence, the building was bought in 1801 by a society of dramatic authors, and again opened as a theatre, which still exists, and is called Teatro Filodrammatico. The Marquis Ariberti was appointed by Joseph I., Emperor of Austria, to the title of Lieutenant-Marshal; he was a member of the High Council of State in Milan. He was buried in the church, which, as above mentioned, was afterwards used as a theatre. (See Lancetti, "Biografia Cremonese," I vol., Milano, 1819.)]

[Footnote 23: Cosimo III. de Medici.]

[Footnote 24: A chest of Viols, Mace tells us, in his "Musick's Monument," 1676, consisted of two Basses, two Tenors, and two Trebles. A Concerto of Violins in Italy, according to the letter of Ariberti, consisted of one Bass, two Tenors (Contralto and Tenor) and two Violins. The term "Concerto" was introduced at the beginning of the 17th century, in connection with sacred music in parts. These compositions were called Church Concertos. Towards the end of the 17th century compositions were introduced for instruments called Chamber Concertos.]

In the collection of relics of the great master, in the possession of the Marquis Dalla Valle, there are some items which appear to be connected with this most interesting letter: I refer to the designs for a case, or cases, for a concerto of instruments dated 1684, which Stradivari himself describes as being for the Grand Duke of Florence. The date upon these designs is indicative of the order for the Violins and the Violoncellos having been given in that year (1684) by the Marquis Ariberti, who at the same time gave certain instructions as to cases and armorial designs. The completion of the order, however, appears to have been delayed, and the instruments were not delivered until 1690. The instructions given in the above letter to Stradivari to complete the concerto by making the Tenors (the patterns of which are among those in the possession of the Marquis Dalla Valle, signed, and dated 1690), and the existence of the Violoncello and one of the Tenors at Florence, dated 1690, are confirmatory of the opinion that the order was executed in 1690. The following inscription, under the left shoulder or side, is in the Tenor: "Prima 20 Ottobre 1690 per S. A. Da Fiorenza." It is interesting to find that the Grand Duke also possessed a Stradivari Violin, dated 1716, which is in Florence, together with the instruments above referred to. It is therefore evident that the belief of the Marquis that Stradivari would receive further orders from the Grand Duke was realised.

Between the years 1690 and 1700 Stradivari made, together with the form of instrument just described, that known to connoisseurs as the "long Strad." We have here quite a differently constructed instrument; it is less graceful, although there is no absence of the masterly hand throughout the work. It has received the title of "long Strad" from its increased length, as the name would imply.[25]

[Footnote 25: The usual length measurements of the various patterns are as under:— (1) "Amatise," 13-7/8 inches. (2) "Long Strad," 14-1/8 (occasionally 14-1/4) inches. (3) "Grand pattern," 14 to 14-1/16 inches.—EDITORS.]

Fortified with the experience which the variously constructed instruments referred to had enabled him to gather, he would seem to have marshalled all his forces in order to enter on an entirely new campaign, one that should be alike glorious to himself and his art. That he succeeded in achieving all that he could have desired, my readers will have an opportunity of judging by the evidence I propose to offer. It was about the year 1700 when Stradivari entered upon a new era in his art. All his past labours appear to have been only measures preliminary to that which he proposed afterwards to accomplish, and were made for the purpose of testing, to the minutest degree, the effect of particular modifications in the form and thickness of his works.

If we stay to consider for a moment the field of research traversed by Stradivari before entering upon what may be not inaptly named the golden period of his life, artistically considered, we shall be better enabled to appreciate his labours.

Starting from the days when he left the workshop of Niccolo Amati, we find him following implicitly in the footsteps of his master. About 1686 he makes use of the more commendable points belonging to the works of former years, adding others of great beauty and utility. At this period he begins to make his originality felt, continuing in this vein, with but little intermission, down to about the year 1690, when he again gives forth fresh evidence of his power to create, as shown in the "long Strad." In expending his powers on those instruments of varied proportions, it might occur to the mind of the observer that he was undoing much that he had accomplished; but I do not consider that such was the case. His project in making these instruments together with those of larger dimensions, evidences, in my opinion, a desire that he had of fairly testing the result of changed methods of construction. The marked variety of his work about this period of his life, I cannot but regard as sufficient proof of the tentative character of the steps he was taking in his art.

From this brief summary of the varied styles given to the works of this true artist, the reader may gather some idea of the solidity of the foundation which he laid, before trusting himself to raise those works which have become monuments to his memory.

That which I have termed the golden period of Stradivari, commenced about 1700, at which time he reached his 56th year: a time of life when it is a rare occurrence to find genius asserting itself with any degree of power—a time, if not of waning, at least of resting, when the mind usually stays from giving forth originality bearing the freshness of earlier years; but Stradivari, with a few other notable instances in the field of art, forms an exception to this rule, and he proves to us that his talent was then in its full vigour, and ripe for new achievements. George Eliot's fancy well contrasts the painter Naldo—

"Knowing all tricks of style at thirty-one, And weary of them; while Antonio At sixty-nine wrought placidly his best."

From about 1700 his instruments show to us much of that which follows later. The outline is changed, but the curves, blending one with another, are beautiful in the extreme. The corners are treated differently. The wood used for the backs and sides is most handsome, having a broad curl. The scrolls are of bold conception, and finely executed. The varnish also is very rich, and leaves nothing to be desired.

It is not possible to convey to the reader, by means of mere description, anything approaching an adequate notion of the surpassing gracefulness of the entire work of this epoch. The eye must be made the channel to the mind. If the work is present, then, with the aid which these remarks will afford, the reader may gain, by careful study, much valuable insight into the beauties and genius of this famous artist, together with much useful information.

But during this period of his maturity, even, we find that Stradivari did not absolutely confine himself to making instruments as near as possible alike; on the contrary, it is easy to point out certain variations, the meaning of which he doubtless well understood. We find him guided throughout this period by his usual ideas as regards grandeur of outline and degrees of thickness; but the rotundity of the model, the shape that he gave to the sound-hole, the method of setting the sound-hole in the instrument, although, as before remarked, all executed with a breadth of purpose which his earlier efforts fail to show, may be cited as points in which he varied. I have no hesitation in hazarding an explanation of the reasons that prompted him to these differences of construction. It is my firm conviction that these great makers had certain guiding principles as regards the nature and qualities of the wood they used, and that Stradivari, in particular, made the subject a special study. If this be granted, I do not think there is any great difficulty in understanding the meaning of the differences pointed out. If Stradivari constructed his instruments upon philosophical principles, the chief element of variation in the treatment of any particular instrument must have been the difference of quality in the material; it is evident that a method eminently successful when applied to wood of a certain texture and character, would ensure as eminent a failure if applied indiscriminately in all cases. To obtain wood sufficient for two bellies that should be alike in every particular is impossible, though cuttings should be made from the same piece; and we find that the more the material varies in its nature, so much the greater the variations—a fact which helps the view advanced considerably. In another place I have stated that scarcity of sycamore in the days of these old makers is impossible to understand, but scarcity of a particular kind of sycamore is easy to comprehend. He might have had a cartload of wood handsome in appearance; but handsome wood combined with acoustical properties he deemed needful, was another matter. With what extraordinary care he permitted himself to use the lovely wood he did possess! There are several instances where he has used, during one year, four or five distinct cuttings of wood, more particularly as regards the sycamore. These several cuttings include often the handsomest and the plainest. A year or so later we find him again making use of wood from the same cuttings, which proves satisfactorily that he did not work up one piece before commencing with another. He would seem to have kept back the handsomest wood for certain important commissions. I have seen three Stradivari Violins of 1714, with backs having but little figure, yet this was the year in which he made the "Dolphin," which is regarded by the chief connoisseurs in Europe as a chef-d'oeuvre of Stradivari. From the days when it was in the possession of the Marquis de la Rosa to the present time, its beauty has excited the admiration of the Fiddle world. The splendour of the wood is unsurpassed in any Violin, ancient or modern, and it was named the "Dolphin" from the richness and variety of the tints it gives to the varnish. The model is perfection; its solidity of construction and glorious varnish all tend to make it unique. Its beauty is of a kind that does not require the eye of the skilled connoisseur to recognise it; it causes those to exclaim whose knowledge is limited to being aware that it is a Fiddle. His making this superb work of art in the same year in which he made instruments having wood quite opposite in figure, bears out, I consider, what I have before stated, viz., that Stradivari jealously guarded the material he possessed having both handsome figure and valuable acoustical properties. Mr. Charles Reade says of these "Strads": "When a red Stradivari Violin is made of soft, velvety wood, and the varnish is just half worn off the back in a rough triangular form, that produces a certain beauty of light and shade which is, in my opinion, the ne plus ultra. These Violins are rare; I never had but two in my life."



It is conceivable that a manufacture so successful as Violin-making proves itself to have been in Italy during the seventeenth and part of the eighteenth centuries, should give rise to scientific inquiry, in order to discover the reason of the excellence of the best Italian instruments, and, if possible, the principles or laws which guided the makers in the exercise of their genius. That investigations of this character should be attended with important results in connection with the science of acoustics, is to be expected. As to laws or principles of a scientific character, I doubt whether such were recognised or understood when the excellence of the manufacture was greatest, believing that Violin makers of the order of Stradivari must be like poets, "born artificers, not made." The chief merits of Stradivari and his contemporary makers were intuitive. Their rules, having their origin in experience, were applied as dictated by their marvellous sense of touch and cunning, with results infinitely superior to any obtained with the aid of the most approved mechanical contrivances. When to these considerations we add that devotedness of purpose, without which nothing really great in art has been accomplished, we have a catalogue of excellences sufficient to account for the greatness of their achievements.

Turning again to the manuscript of Arisi, we find that "On the 12th of May, 1701, Don Antonio Cavezudo, leader of the private orchestra of King Charles II. of Spain, wrote a highly complimentary letter to Stradivari from Madrid, assuring him that though he had received bow instruments from several makers, for different courts, yet he had never been able to obtain them of such a refined and beautiful tone as those made by him." Arisi adds that Don Antonio Cavezudo was also in the service of the Duke of Anjou.

M. Fetis, in his notice of Stradivari,[26] remarks: "The life of Antonio Stradivari was as tranquil as his calling was peaceful. The year 1702, alone, must have caused him much disquiet, when, during the war concerning the succession, the city of Cremona was taken by Marshal Villeroy, retaken by Prince Eugene, and finally taken a third time by the French; but after that period Italy enjoyed a long tranquillity, in which the old age of the artist glided peacefully away."

[Footnote 26: "Notice of Anthony Stradivari," by F. J. Fetis, translated by John Bishop. 1864.]

A campaign had taken place in Italy in 1701, when Prince Eugene, with thirty thousand troops, out-generalled Catinat, the able French commander, giving Louis XIV. the opportunity of placing the empty and presumptuous Villeroy in command. Prince Eugene had greatly harassed the French in Italy, when, in the night of February 1, 1702, he surprised the French garrison of Cremona, and, though momentarily successful, "missed the town," as Eugene said, "by a quarter of an hour," but carried off the Commander-in-Chief, Villeroy, which the popular song-writers of the day construed into "a double gain to France"—Cremona saved, and Villeroy lost.

It is conceivable that Stradivari, together with his fellow-citizens, witnessed during the year 1702 more of the pomp of war than was agreeable. The blowing of trumpets, the beating of drums, and other martial sounds, would be music not likely to touch pleasantly the ears of Stradivari, apart from the discomfort attendant on military occupation. He, however, appears to have practised his art with undiminished zeal, judging from the following interesting information given by Arisi. He says: "Stradivari made a complete set of bow instruments, which he intended to present to Philip V. of Spain, on the occasion of the passage of the King through Cremona; and he had prepared a memorial to that effect; but he was dissuaded, and the instruments are still in his possession."

No date is supplied with regard to the events above named; we are therefore left to assign the period when the presentation was to have taken place by reference to other sources of information. In an official diary of the journey of Philip V. to Italy[27] it appears that the King arrived in Lombardy on the 10th of June, 1702, and that from Milan he went to Lodi on the 1st of July, and made his entry into Cremona two days later, July the 3rd, at one o'clock in the afternoon. Philip remained several days in the town, receiving visits from the Dukes of Parma and of Mantua, and held there several councils of war with the generals of the allied armies (Spanish and French), and appears to have left Cremona on the 20th of July for the seat of war near Mantua. After the victories of Luzzara and Guastalla, the King passed again through Cremona, arriving there on the 3rd of October, staying one night, and leaving the following day for Milan. On this occasion there was much festivity on account of the victories, and the King distributed sums of money and presents for the wounded, the officers, and the generals. It would therefore appear that Stradivari purposed presenting the instruments to Philip either in July or October, 1702. The condition of affairs at Cremona at this period apparently serves to explain the cause of Stradivari having been dissuaded from presenting the instruments.

[Footnote 27: Contained in the work of Don A. de Ubilla y Medina, Marquis de Ribas, entitled, "Succession de el Rey D. Philipe V.'; Diario de sus Viages, &c." Madrid, 1704, fol.]

"On the 10th of November, 1702, the Marquis Giovanni Battista Toralba, General of Cavalry and Governor of Cremona, sent for Stradivari, and, after complimenting him on his peculiar genius, ordered two Violins and a Violoncello, which were afterwards sent as a present to the Duke of Alba.

"In the year 1707, the Marquis Desiderio Cleri wrote to Stradivari, by order of King Charles III. of Spain, from Barcelona, ordering for the royal orchestra six Violins, two Tenors, and one Violoncello."

This extract refers to the Archduke Charles of Austria, afterwards Emperor Charles VI. Charles III., aided by the British fleet, occupied Barcelona in 1706. We have, therefore, the interesting facts that Stradivari made a complete set of instruments which he intended to present to Philip V., and that he was afterwards commissioned to make another set for Philip's opponent, the Archduke.

Lorenzo Giustiniani, a Venetian nobleman, wrote to Stradivari the following letter, which he received July 7, 1716:—

"Venice, Giustiniani Palace, "Campiello dei Squellini.

"It is generally known that there is not at the present time in the world a more skilled maker of musical instruments than yourself; and as I wish to preserve a record of such an illustrious man and famous artist, I trouble you with this letter, to ask whether you feel disposed to make me a Violin, of the highest quality and finish that you can bestow upon it."

The following extract from Arisi's manuscript brings us to the end of the interesting information therein contained in reference to the subject of this notice, and amply justifies the closing words of the author, who says: "From what I have written it may be seen how great is the excellence of Stradivari's art."

"In 1715, on the 10th of June, Giovanni Battista Voleme, director of the private orchestra of the King of Poland, arrived in Cremona, by special order of the King, to await the completion of twelve Violins, which had been ordered of Stradivari, and he remained here three months; and when all the instruments were ready, he took them with him to Poland."

Arisi doubtless refers to the Belgian musician Jean Baptiste Volumier, who was musical director to Augustus, Elector of Saxony and King of Poland, famous as a patron of music and the arts. It was Augustus who appointed Francesco Maria Veracini as his solo Violinist in 1720, and on the title-page of the charming Sonatas of Veracini we read—

"Dedicata a sua Altezza Reale, il Serenissimo Principe Reale di Pollonia et Elettorale di Sassonia. Francesco Maria Veracini Fiorentino Compositore di Camera di sua Maesta."

The blending of the names of Stradivari, Augustus, and Veracini, serves to carry our thoughts into channels overflowing with interesting musical records. Voleme (Volumier) is said to have taken the instruments from Cremona to Poland. It would therefore appear that the Royal Orchestra was then stationed at Warsaw, the Court Musicians having to divide their time between that city and Dresden. In these capitals Jean Baptiste Volumier directed the music of the Elector Augustus from the year 1706 to 1728. Veracini was appointed solo Violinist in 1720 to Augustus, and the instruments which Stradivari made for the King were, therefore, only five years old. Though new, their tones were doubtless rich and beautiful. Veracini, it may be assumed, saw, heard, and played upon these comparatively new Stradivari Violins. He, however, whilst fully alive to their sterling merits, played, in all probability, upon his Stainers, which he named "St. Peter" and "St. Paul," with more pleasure, from their being thoroughly matured. The order given by Augustus to Stradivari, and the King's determination to have it executed, throws a strong side-light on the lofty position held by Stradivari as a maker of Violins. It also appears to furnish, in some measure, an explanation of the length of time he took to execute the order given by the Marquis Ariberti. We have here an artist of European celebrity, who was incapable of executing indifferent work. Commissions flowed from the chief courts faster than they could be executed. The genius of Stradivari could not but be true to itself. He scorned to sacrifice quality at the shrine of quantity. His patrons had, therefore, to wait patiently for their instruments, though it might be for years. The Elector of Saxony was evidently resolved upon securing his Violins, and it cannot be denied that the measures he adopted to accomplish his purpose did credit to his perseverance, and reflected honour on the Raphael of Violin-making.

Passing to the last period of this great maker, we enter upon the consideration of a set of instruments very distinct from those of an earlier date, and which have given rise to a great divergence of opinion. Some have gone to the extent of denying the authenticity of these works, as far as they relate to Stradivari; others, again, admit that portions of these instruments are from his hand, and finished by his sons or Carlo Bergonzi. There are, doubtless, many exceedingly crude-looking instruments passing under his name, bearing dates ranging from 1730 to 1737, in the making of which he has taken no part; but, on the other hand, to deny that there are any works of Stradivari having these dates is to deny established facts. He must be an ill-informed judge of Violins who fails to recognise the hand of the master in several splendid specimens of this period. The rich oil varnish with which they are covered is precisely the same in quality as that found upon the instruments belonging to other periods, and which he used without exception throughout his career. It is, perhaps, laid on less carefully, and its colour is more varied. In some instances it is brown, and in others light red, the tone of colour varying according to the number of coats. He seems to have used, generally, more varnish upon these instruments than on his earlier ones. The thickness of the coats is seen in those parts (on the back in particular) where the varnish is worn and broken, caused, in all cases, by the shoulder of the player and the lining of the case upon which the back rests. It must be borne in mind that Stradivari had reached a great age when he made these instruments, and he evidently felt proud of his ability to continue his artistic labours after passing his ninetieth year, from the number of Violins wherein, in his own handwriting, he proclaimed himself a nonagenarian. It would not be reasonable to expect to find so high a finish as in the instruments made from 1700 to 1725, but even in these there is a finish distinct from that of either his sons or Bergonzi. But, beyond this, there is recognisable the splendid form, the masterly scroll, and the perfect sound-hole. To say that Omobono Stradivari, Francesco Stradivari, or Carlo Bergonzi had any share in these notable works, evidences hasty judgment, if not ignorance of the style of those makers to whom these instruments are attributed. The work of Carlo Bergonzi is now pretty well understood; in England, particularly, we have some glorious specimens. I need only ask the unbiassed connoisseur if he can reconcile one of these instruments with those of Stradivari of the period named. I have no hesitation in saying that there is not a single feature in common. The work of the sons of Stradivari is less known, but it is as characteristic as that of Bergonzi, and quite as distinct from that of their father, if not more so. The outline is rugged, the modelling distinct, the scroll a ponderous piece of carving, quite foreign to Stradivari the elder, and the varnish, though good, is totally different from the superb coats found on the father's works of late date.

The division of the work of Stradivari into periods makes the reader more acquainted with the maker's style. It must be remembered, however, that he did not strictly confine himself to making instruments wholly of one pattern at any time, although he certainly did so with but few exceptions until the last period, when, as Lancetti rightly observes, he used more frequently his earlier patterns.

The exact spot where Stradivari was buried was made known by the researches of Signor Sacchi, a Cremonese conversant with the annals of his native city.[28] This was an interesting addition to the meagre information previously handed down to us touching Stradivari. It had long been known that a family grave was purchased by Stradivari in the church of San Domenico, in the year 1729: but in the certificates from the Cathedral of Cremona it is stated that he was buried in the tomb of Francesco Villani, no mention being made of San Domenico. The exact words are, "Buried in the Chapel of the Rosary, in the parish of St. Matthew." The omission of the name of the church wherein this chapel stood has led to the belief that the precise spot where the mortal remains of Stradivari rest was unknown. Signor Sacchi finds that the historians of Cremona (but especially Panni, in his "Report on the Churches of Cremona, 1762") mention that the Church of San Domenico was in the parish of St. Matthew, and that the only chapel known by the name of "The Rosary" was the third on the right, entering the Church of San Domenico.

[Footnote 28: "The Orchestra" of July 15, 1870, contains a notice relative to the circumstance, entitled "The Tomb of Stradivari."]

An important point is mentioned by the historian above quoted, viz., that about the year 1720 the Parish Church of St. Matthew being judged too full to allow of further burials in its interior, the Church of San Domenico (its subsidiary church) was chosen as a place of burial for the parishioners, for which purpose it was used down to about 1780, and that Stradivari purchased there the grave mentioned. This statement is confirmed by the autograph letter of Count Cozio di Salabue, of Casale Monferato, Piedmont.



The Church of San Domenico was, in consequence of its decayed condition, demolished about the year 1870. Becoming aware of what was taking place, I gave instructions that a photograph should be taken of the chapel in which the body of Stradivari was interred. This was accomplished whilst the workmen were in the act of levelling the structure, and it has been engraved on wood for the purpose of insertion in this volume. The stone with the inscription "Sepolcro di Antonio Stradivari E Svoi Eredi Anno 1729," which served to denote the spot where the body was buried, is now preserved in the Town Hall of Cremona. Signor Sacchi remembered it having been placed in the corner, close to the steps and iron railing inside the third chapel on the right, in the Church of San Domenico.

M. Fetis says of Stradivari, "We know but little respecting that uneventful existence. Polledro, late first Violin at the Chapel Royal of Turin, who died a few years ago, at a very advanced age, declared that his master had known Stradivari, and that he was fond of talking about him. He was, he said, tall and thin, habitually wore, in winter, a cap of white wool, and one of cotton in summer. He wore over his clothes an apron of white leather when he worked, and as he was always working, his costume scarcely ever varied. He had acquired more than competency by labour and economy, for the inhabitants of Cremona were accustomed to say, 'As rich as Stradivari!'"[29] The house he occupied stands in the Piazza Roma, formerly called the Square of San Domenico, in the centre of which was the church of the same name. The house is still in good condition, and is the principal place of interest in the old city of Cremona to the many admirers of Stradivari who visit the seat of Violin-making in olden times. After the death of Stradivari it was occupied by his sons Omobono and Francesco; and afterwards by the maker's youngest son, Paolo, who carried on there the business of a cloth merchant. Stradivari worked on the ground floor, and used the upper storey for varnishing.

[Footnote 29: "Notice of Anthony Stradivari."]

It is somewhat singular that the Cremonese take but little apparent interest in the matter, and have expressed themselves as being astonished at the demonstrations of respect which their French and English visitors pay to the hallowed spot. The better-informed Cremonese have some acquaintance with the name of Stradivari; but to create any enthusiasm among them from the fact of his having been a Cremonese, or from the historical associations which connect him with that city, would be difficult. After the exercise of considerable patience and determination, Signor Sacchi, in conjunction with a few Cremonese, managed to raise sufficient enthusiasm among the inhabitants to permit the authorities to name a street after Stradivari, and another after Amati. This worthy act was performed by the late librarian, Professor Pietro Fecit, who aided Signor Sacchi in his researches in connection with the past of Cremona's Violin-makers.

This street-naming was much opposed at the time. The citizens of Cremona are, however, not quite singular in this respect. It has been remarked that our American friends show far greater interest in Stratford-upon-Avon and its memories than we ourselves do. I must confess that I have great respect for the genuine enthusiast.

The Cremonese have scarcely an idea of the extent of veneration with which we admirers of the art regard their illustrious citizen. They will be astonished to hear that "Stradivari" forms the Christian name of some Englishmen. A well-known dealer, some years since, determined to commemorate his admiration for the great maker, and, accordingly, named his descendant "Stradivari Turner." We have stepped out of the ordinary path of house nomenclature, and have adopted the cherished name of "Stradivari" to the bewilderment of the passer-by, whose unmusical soul fails to be impressed by it. To crown our seeming eccentricities (in the eyes of our Italian friends), I may mention that the magic name has found its way into circles where little interest is taken in the subject of this notice, judging from the following announcement, which appeared in the profane pages of a newspaper: "Waterloo Purse.—E. Mr. Goodlake's Gilderoy beat Earl of Stair's Stradivarius, and won the Purse;" the result showing that Stradivari was evidently out of place in such company.

STRADIVARI, Francesco, Cremona, 1720-43.

Franciscus Stradivarius Cremonensis Filius Antonii faciebat Anno 1742

Son of Antonio Stradivari. Worked with his brother Omobono for several years. Many of the later works of Antonio Stradivari have been attributed to his sons. The character of the work is wholly distinct. I can well understand the error of attributing the instruments of Francesco Stradivari to Carlo Bergonzi, there being many points in common, but that so many marked specimens of the works of Antonio should be deemed apocryphal is beyond my comprehension. The work of Francesco is altogether less finished, but at the same time it shows the hand of the master. The design is bold and original. The tone of Francesco's instruments is invariably rich and telling.

Lancetti states—speaking of Francesco Stradivari—"After the death of his father, he made several Violins and Tenors, to which he put his own name. Although he did not succeed in perfectly imitating the works of his father, the instruments which he made in the years 1740 and 1742, and which remained after his death in the possession of his brother Paolo, were sold at the same price as those of his father, as mentioned in the correspondence between Count Cozio and Paolo. Francesco died at the end of 1742, the year Omobono died, and in which he made the Violins bought by Count Cozio." The date of death (as given by Lancetti), though incorrect by some months—he having died May 11, 1743, aged 72 years—shows the care and trouble taken to render the information as complete as possible, these dates having been given without reference to registers, but simply as stated by Paolo.

STRADIVARI, Omobono, Cremona, 1742.

Omobonus Stradivarius filius Antonii Cremone fecit, Anno 1740.

Brother of Francesco. Lancetti remarks, "Omobono chiefly restored instruments and arranged and regulated them." Francesco, it will be seen, survived his brother about thirteen months, and with him, as with Girolamo Amati, the son of Niccolo, we reach the end of the family's long and historical career of Violin-making. Upon the death of Francesco, the shop in the Piazza San Domenico (now named Piazza Roma) was closed, after having been occupied by the family of Stradivari as Violin-makers for upwards of sixty-three years. From here were sent into cathedral, church, and royal orchestras the largest number of Violins and kindred instruments ever made by one maker—instruments which bore the indelible stamp of genius and have gladdened the sight and hearing of untold thousands. The famous shop, as previously noticed, was next opened by Paolo Stradivari, who was a cloth merchant or warehouseman. Paolo died in 1776, a year after the date of the correspondence which passed between him and Count Cozio di Salabue. Antonio, son of Paolo, born in 1738 and married in 1762, had a son Giacomo, born in 1769 and married in 1797. Cesare, the son of Giacomo, became a physician in Cremona, married in 1838, and left, as the representative of the Cremonese branch of the family, Dr. Libero Stradivari, a barrister-at-law and an excellent performer on the flute.

SURSANO, Spirito, Coni, 1714-35.

TANEGIA, Carlo Antonio, Milan, early in the 18th century.

TANINGARD, Giorgio, Rome, 17—.

TECCHLER, David, Rome, 1680-1743.

David Tecchler Liutaro fecit Romae 17—

A highly esteemed maker. He worked in Venice, Salzburg, and Rome, chiefly in the latter city. His instruments vary in form, some having a marked German style: they are high-modelled, and the sound-hole partakes of the Stainer character. These were probably made in Salzburg, to the order of his patrons. Those instruments which date from Rome are chiefly of the Italian type, and are so much superior to the others that it seems difficult to reconcile varieties so distinct as the work of the same man. They are finely formed, have splendid wood, and rich varnish of a yellow tint; the bellies are of a mottled character, similar to those so much used by Niccolo Amati. His Violoncellos are among the finest of his instruments. They are mostly of a large size.

TEDESCO, Leopoldo, pupil of Niccolo Amati. He went to Rome. I have seen a Violin of his make dated from there 1658. Workmanship a little rough, good varnish, Amati outline.

TESTORE, Carlo Giuseppe, Milan, about 1690 to 1720. The form resembles that of Guarneri. The wood is often plain in figure.

TESTORE, Carlo Antonio, Milan, about 1730 to 1764. Son of Giuseppe. Copied Guarneri and Amati. These instruments are bold and well made; their tone is excellent; wood often plain in figure.

TESTORE, Giovanni, son of Carlo Antonio.

TESTORE, Paolo Antonio, Milan, about 1740. Brother of Carlo Antonio. Copied Guarneri. The varnish is mostly yellow; frequently unpurfled.

TIEFFENBRUCKER, Leonardo, Padua, 1587. Lute-maker.

TODINI, Michele, seventeenth century, a native of Saluzzo, lived for many years at Rome. Todini was the inventor and maker of a great number of musical contrivances, in which clockwork played an important part. He occupied himself with this manufacture for several years, and turned his house into a kind of musical museum. He published in 1676 a pamphlet describing its contents. His name is associated with our subject in having adopted a new mode of stringing the Violono, or Double-Bass, by using four strings, and playing himself upon the instrument at oratorio performances in Rome. I have mentioned in Section I. that the Violono was originally used with several strings—five, six, or seven—and with frets. Todini is therefore credited with having introduced the method of stringing the Double Bass which led to the conversion of the old Violonos into Double-Basses fitted for modern requirements.

TONONI, Carlo, Bologna. At the exhibition at Milan in 1881, an inlaid Kit, of beautiful workmanship, was exhibited of this maker.

Carolo Tunonus fecit Bononiae in Platea Castaelionis Anno Domini 1698.

TONONI, Carlo Antonio, Venice, born at Bologna, probably a son of the above.

Carolus Tononi Bonon fecit Venetiis sub Titulo S. Cecilae Anno 1739.

The model varies very much; those of the flat pattern are excellent instruments. They are large, and beautifully made. The varnish, though inferior to that of Santo Serafino, is similar. These Violins are branded above the tail-pin. His instruments date from about 1716.

TONONI, Giovanni, about 1700. Similar characteristics.

TONONI, Felice, Bologna.

TONONI, Guido, Bologna.

TOPPANI, Angelo de, Rome, about 1740. Scarce; workmanship resembles that of Tecchler.

TORTOBELLO, Francesco, Rome, 16—. Maggini characteristics.

TRAPANI, Raffaele, Naples, about 1800. Large pattern; flat model; purfling deeply laid; edges sharp; scroll heavy.

VALENZANO, Gio. Maria, Rome, 1771 to about 1830. Neapolitan character; neat work; varnish excellent in some specimens, being soft and transparent.

VETRINI, Battista, Brescia, about 1629. Yellow varnish of good quality; handsome wood; rather small.

VIMERCATI, Paolo, Venice, about 1700. Similar to Tononi. Jacob Stainer is said to have worked in the shop of Vimercati.

WENGER, Padua, Lute-maker, 1622.

ZANNETTO, Pellegrino, Brescia, 1547. M. Chouquet in his "Catalogue Raisonne" of the instruments at the Conservatoire in Paris, describes a six-string Viol da Gamba of this make.

ZANOLA, Giovanni Battista. Flat model; rough workmanship; German character.

Joannes Baptista Zanola, Verona, 17—

ZANOLI, Giacomo, 1740-80. Verona. Worked in Venice, Padua, and Verona. Venetian character.

ZANOTTI, Antonio, Mantua, about 1734.

Antonius Zanotus, fecit Mantuae, anno 1734.

ZANTI, Alessandro, Mantua, 1765. He copied Pietro Guarneri, but had little knowledge of varnishing, if we are to judge from the few instruments of this maker extant.

ZANURE, Pietro, Brescia, 1509. A maker of Viols.

ZENATTO, Pietro, Treviso, about 1634.

Pietro Zenatto fece in Treviso Anno 1634.



SECTION VII The French School

The French have long occupied a foremost place in the production of articles needing delicate workmanship, and it is therefore not surprising that they should at an early period have turned their attention to the art of Violin-making, which requires in a high degree both skilful workmanship and artistic treatment. The French manufacture of Violins appears to have commenced about the same period as the English, viz., in the early part of the 17th century, Francois Medard and Tywersus being among the French makers, and Rayman and Wise their fellows in England. The primitive French makers, like their English brethren, copied the instruments made at Brescia and Cremona, to which course they adhered down to the days of Barak Norman, when the two nations parted company, as regards having a common type, the French continuing the path they had hitherto taken, and copying the Italians, with scarcely any deviation, to the present time. The English left the Italian form for the German one of Jacob Stainer, which they adopted, with but few exceptions, for nearly a century, recovering the Italian about the middle of the 18th century. It is remarkable that French makers should have restrained themselves from following the pattern of the famous German maker when his name was at its height and his instruments were in such demand. That in not adopting the then popular form they were rightly guided, experience has clearly demonstrated. When we scan the older works the French have left us, and consider the advantage they had in keeping to the Italian form, we cannot but feel disappointed in finding so few meritorious instruments among them. There appear to have been many makers who were quite unconcerned whether their instruments possessed merit becoming the productions of a true artist; their chief aim would seem to have been to make in dozens—in other words, quantity in place of quality. If the early French makers are carefully studied, it will be seen that Boquay, Pierray, and one or two of their pupils are the only makers deserving of praise. It must be admitted that the shortcomings of the makers of the first period were adequately supplied by those of the second period, which includes the king of French artists, Nicolas Lupot. The old French school, originating with Tywersus and Medard, includes the following makers: Nicolas Renault, of Nancy, Medard, also of Nancy, Dumesnil, Bertrand, Pierray, Boquay, Gavinies, Chappuy, Ouvrard, Paul Grosset, Despont, Saint-Paul, Salomon, Veron, with others of less importance. Many of these makers had a fair amount of ideas, which, had they been well directed, might have led to fame. Others contented themselves with copying, without giving any place to their fancy. It will be found that many of the instruments by Boquay, Pierray, and a few others, have varnish upon them closely resembling that of the Venetian school; it is full-bodied, very transparent, and rich in colour. Many of their works are covered with a very inferior quality of varnish, which has caused some confusion respecting the merit due to them as varnishers, they being frequently judged by their inferior instruments, without reference to their good ones. It is evident that they made two qualities of varnish, in accordance with the price they were to obtain, as was commonly done in England by the Forsters, Banks, and Wamsley, where similar confusion exists. The Italians happily avoided this objectionable practice. Their works are of one uniform quality in point of varnish. This divergence may possibly be accounted for by the difference of climate. In Italy, oil varnish, judiciously used, would dry rapidly, whereas in France or England the reverse would be the case; hence its more sparing use.

We will now glance at the second French School of makers, commencing with De Comble. Learning his art in Italy, and, it is said, under Stradivari, he brought to bear a knowledge superior to that possessed by the makers mentioned above. The form he introduced was seen to be in advance of that hitherto met with among the French and Belgian makers, and led to its being chiefly followed. The next maker was Pique, who made Violins and Violas that were excellent in point of workmanship, and had he been equally successful in varnishing he would probably have been held in the same estimation as Nicolas Lupot. From these makers sprang quite a little school of its own, comprising Francois Gand, in Paris, who succeeded to the business of Lupot, and Bernardel, with several others less known. Mention must not be omitted of another excellent copyist—Silvestre, of Lyons. He has left some charming specimens of his art. They are lighter in character than the works of Nicolas Lupot, and resemble the work of Stradivari from 1680 to 1710. Every portion of the work evidences the skill and judgment of the maker. The wood, with scarcely an exception, has not been manipulated in order to darken it, consequently the instruments become of increasing merit as age acts upon them.

The practice of preparing the wood for Violin-making, either by baking it or by the application of acids, may be traced, in the first instance, to a desire to obtain artificially those results which are brought about by the hand of time. In obtaining lightness and dryness in new wood, it was imagined that the object in view would be reached without the aid of Dame Nature. Experience, however, has shown that Fiddles, like all things intended to pass into green old age, mature gradually, and are not to be benefited by any kind of forcing process. The earliest account I have met with of Fiddle-baking occurred in England about 150 years since. One Jeacocke, a baker by trade, and a lover of music by nature, used to bake his Fiddles in sawdust for a week whenever their tones showed symptoms of not being up to his standard of quality. In France the practice may be said to have been introduced about eighty years ago, with a view of facilitating the creation of such mysteries as Duiffoprugcar and Morella Violins, baked and browned until they had something of a fifteenth-century hue. The same means were adopted in the production of instruments intended as copies of the works of Stradivari and Guarneri. The brown hue of the originals, and the worn and broken condition of the varnish which comes of age alone, were imitated with more or less ingenuity. Happily the error is recognised, as far as the best workmanship is concerned, in France. The legitimate imitator's art no longer includes that of depicting wear and brownness, rendering abortive so much excellent work.

It only remains now to mention Salle, Vuillaume, Chanot, Gand, Germain, Mennegand, Gaillard, and Miremont, all copyists of more or less note, who may be said to complete the modern French school. These makers are or were the chief manufacturers of Violins in France of a better class. Those made by thousands yearly at Mirecourt are not Violins in the eyes of the connoisseur. They are made, as common cabinet work is produced in England, by several workmen, each taking a portion, one making the backs, another the sides, another the bellies, and so on with the other parts of the instrument, the whole being finally arranged by a finisher. Such work must necessarily be void of any artistic nature; they are like instruments made in a mould, not on a mould, so painfully are they alike. This Manchester of Fiddle-making has doubtless been called into being by the great demand for cheap instruments, and has answered thus far its purpose, but it has certainly helped to destroy the gallant little bands of makers who were once common in France, Germany, and England, among whom were men who were guided by reverential feelings for the art, irrespective of the gains they reaped by their labours. The number of instruments yearly made in Mirecourt and Saxony[1] amounts to many thousands, and is yearly increasing. They send forth repeated copies of Amati, Maggini, Guarneri, and Stradivari, all duly labelled and dated, to all parts of the world, frequently disappointing their simple-minded purchasers, who fondly fancy they have thus become possessed of the real article at the trifling cost of a few pounds. They produce various kinds of modern antiques in Violins, some of which display an amount of ingenuity worthy of being exercised in a better cause; but usually the whole thing is overdone, and the results, in point of tone, are far more disastrous than in the common French copies. The following list of French, Belgian, and Dutch makers contains many names not included in the first edition of this book. The works wherein several of these names occur are M. J. Gallay's, "Les Luthiers Italiens aux 17ieme et 18ieme Siecles," 1869; M. Fetis, "Biographie Universelle des Musiciens;" M. Vidal, "Les Instruments a Archet," 1876; the "Catalogue Raisonne," of the instruments at the Conservatoire, by Gustave Chouquet, Paris, 1875; "Recherches sur les facteurs de Clavecins," by M. le Chevalier de Burbure, Antwerp, 1863; Pougin's "Supplement to the Dictionary of Fetis;" and Mendel's "Musikalisches Conversations-Lexikon," 1880.

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