Violin and Quartet
See also : Musical instrument Violin II
Chronology : 1680-1699 1700-1709 1710-1719 1720-1729
1679 The Hellier Violin
2022 for sale on July 7 by Christie's
He probably began as an apprentice to Nicolo Amati in his home town of Cremona in Lombardy which he will not leave. He started experimenting with modified sizes of the violin in the lifetime of his master.
Stradivari's breakthrough occurred around 1679 when he was in his mid thirties, five years before Nicola's death. Amidst shorter violins, he made an early masterpiece with an increased volume : 35.7 cm length of back in one piece of maple, 17 cm upper bouts, 11.5 cm middle bouts, 29 cm lower bouts. The position and form of the holes is also departing from the standards while the symmetry of the proportions is still under the influence of Amati.
This instrument is inlaid of a decorative pattern of pearl shaped ivory and of decorative flowers and vines etched in the wood, executed by the master as evidenced by autograph preparatory drawings. It is considered by an expert from the Smithsonian as the best preserved decorated stradivarius from no more that a dozen examples in existence. The fully preserved varnish is an unprecedented lustrous golden-orange over a glowing golden ground.
Considered as the finest stradivarius violin from that transition period, it is believed that this highly finished prototype was kept by Stradivari for four decades or more until he sold it to a Mr Hellier.
The Hellier stradivarius violin is estimated £ 6M for sale by Christie's on July 7, 2022, lot 40.
1684 the Ex Croall McEwen Violin
2017 SOLD for £ 1.92M by Ingles and Hayday
Formal business relations between the two workshops are not known but a 1666 label suggests that Stradivari began his career as an apprentice ('alumnus') to Amati.
Amati had been a great innovator and experimenter, identifying how a tiny variation in the shape or size of a violin generates considerable differences in the sound. He had also tried to develop an optimized varnish. Stradivari analyzes the solutions found by the old master. He will be considered from 1690 as the most important designer and manufacturer of violins of all time.
On March 28, 2017, Ingles and Hayday sold for £ 1.92M from a lower estimate of £ 1.3M a stradivarius violin, lot 28. The instrument bears an original label inscribed 'Antonius Stradiuarius Cremonensis Faciebat Anno 1684' and presents all the characteristics of this very important period which launched the career of the master then 40 years old.
This violin had surfaced in the mid-1880s in the very active musical circles in Edinburgh and is now identified as the Ex Croall McEwen specimen. Used regularly in concert in the last thirty years, it offers important references in discography from 1985 to 1990 with the young soloist Frank Peter Zimmermann.
Please watch the video shared by the auction house:
2013 SOLD for £ 1.4M by Tarisio
On December 18, 2013, Tarisio sold for £ 1.4M a violin made by Stradivari in Cremona, dated 1696 by its label.
This is a fine example of violin with a normal back length of 35.4 cm. It is similar in style to the Molitor of 1697 which was sold for $ 3.6 million by Tarisio on October 14, 2010. Its back is in flamed maple, a recognizable variety which was also used on a 1696 viola and on the 1698 Baron Knoop violin.
Great instruments do not stay in the showcases and their careers with the musicians are often full of adventures and anecdotes. The violin for sale retains its original label, but its provenance is unknown until its authentication by an expert in 2000.
It was acquired soon afterward by a young soloist, and was stolen in 2010 in London in a railway station cafe. It was retrieved undamaged a few months ago, but its owner could not have waited for so long. She now has another Stradivarius, which explains why her former instrument enters the market.
Please watch the video shared by ITV where the violin is introduced by a manager of the auction house :
1697 the Molitor Violin
2010 SOLD for $ 3.6M by Tarisio
to be narrated later
1705 the Baron von der Leyen Violin
2012 SOLD for $ 2.6 M$ by Tarisio
In the 1680s, the Stradivarius violins have the same features as those of Nicolo Amati. Customers love to hear music in large concert halls, and require to improve the sound. The Molitor, dated 1697, is already a wonderful violin. It was sold for $ 3.6 million by Tarisio in October 2010.
On April 26, 2012, Tarisio sold for $ 2.6M a Stradivarius violin, little known and well preserved, manufactured around 1705, the Baron von der Leyen. Please watch the video shared on YouTube by Tarisio :
1714 The Da Vinci Violin
2022 SOLD for $ 15.3M by Tarisio
The know how acquired in that period led the master to design in 1709 other changes that still increased the sound while coming back to the classic size. Flatness and arching reached an unprecedented perfection. In that so called Golden Age that lasted until the mid 1720s, the stradivarius went to be the all time finest violins.
An example was the Soil of 1714, so named from an owner from the early 29th century. Its "cathedral" sound was so powerful that it did not match the requests of Menuhin, who owned it from 1950 and transferred it to Perlman in 1986.
The Da Vinci is also dated 1714 in its Stradivari label. Its back is made of a single maple piece, rarer than a two piece back for a stradivarius violin of the Golden Age. The varnish is of a bright and golden amber color polychromatic when varying the light.
It first surfaced in 1881 in a deceased estate sale. Its French name Le Léonard de Vinci is a tribute to genius granted in the 1920s by the French dealer Albert Caressa who also nicknamed Michelangelo and Titian two stradivarius from the same period.
It was purchased in 1923 by the recently emigrated Russian born virtuoso Toscha Seidel after a meticulous quest of the perfect violin. That new ownership made a front page of the New York Times in 1924.
Seidel used it extensively in concert and then in radio hosting and studio recording including for the soundtrack of The Wizard of Oz, Intermezzo and Melody for Three.
The da Vinci ex Seidel was sold for $ 15.3M by Tarisio on June 9, 2022, lot 136. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
1721 The Lady Blunt Violin
2011 SOLD for £ 9.8M by Tarisio
An interesting hypothesis, not proven, is based on the fact that instruments made at the same time by Andrea Guarneri are approaching the quality of the Stradivarius: the very cold climate of the late seventeenth century would have created less dense wood by slowing the growth of trees.
The Lady Blunt has all the qualities required to excite violinists and experts. Luckily, this specimen is very close to its original state. It was manufactured in 1721, in the best time of Stradivari. It belonged to Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume, the French violin maker of the nineteenth century who made commendable efforts to understand and achieve the quality of the Stradivarius.
In 2008, this wonderful violin was purchased by Nippon Music in a private transaction whose amount exceeded $ 10M. This Tokyo foundation has decided to sell it to benefit the victims of the earthquake and tsunami. The auction was operated on June 20, 2011 by Tarisio. It was sold for £ 9.8M. Please watch the post sale video shared by the auction house. The image is shared by Wikimedia.
1725 Guarnerius later Del Gesu Violin
2012 SOLD for £ 1.5M by Tarisio
The popular image for Stradivari is that of a perfectionist craftsman taking care of every detail of the wood and shape. In contrast, the last of the Guarneri from Cremona, Giovanni, is viewed as a more romantic figure. His violins reach the same power and the same quality of tone as the best Stradivarius instruments, and some great performers like Paganini even preferred a Guarnerius.
Giuseppe Guarneri inscribed from 1731 his labels with an acronym of Christ and a cross. For this reason, he was ti received the nickname Del Gesu, also applied to his instruments.
On June 25, 2012, Tarisio sold a Guarnerius Del Gesu for £ 1.5 M. Made around 1725, it is one of the earliest instruments of the master at a time when he left the workshop of his father to make his own instruments. It is in very good condition.
1736 Guarnerius Del Gesu Violin
2022 SOLD for € 3.4M by Aguttes
Guarneri del Gesu reached his top maturity in the mid 1730s. His flamboyant style created instruments which were in their strong sonority the closest competitors of the Stradivarius. From 1737 he took a lesser care to the quality of the finish.
His most desirable instruments nevertheless belong to that last period. They include Paganini's preferred violin, made in 1743 and an ex Menuhin made in 1742. Private sales have included the ex Vieuxtemps made ca 1741, sold for nearly $ 18M in 2013, and the Kochanski made in the same year and sold for $ 10M in 2009.
On June 3, 2022, Aguttes sold as lot 1 for € 3.4M the Guarnerius del Gesu made in Cremona in 1736 that was played by Régis Pasquier in a great musical repertory for twenty years with a mean 70 concerts per year.
Its far away resonance and its superb sonority make it suitable for large concert rooms. Its small length of only 35.1 cm is typical for that master. The back is a monoxyl maple and the coating is a beautiful brown orange on gold background.
□Si le #violoniste est en quête de l’instrument parfait, c'est parce qu'il "vit, jours et nuits, avec son violon". Pendant 20 ans, Régis Pasquier ne s’est pas séparé de ce #Guarnerius, « Del Gesù ».— Aguttes (@Aguttes_) May 23, 2022
VIOLONS & ARCHETS
Vente: 3 juin, 14h
Catalogue: https://t.co/BnFs5NHtXM pic.twitter.com/TuWPQ0BW5z
This new hypothesis is consistent with the fact that the structure of the instruments made by Giovanni Battista is very close to the Stradivarius. Probably advised by keen users, Guadagnini practices a continuous improvement as Stradivari had done. Slight changes in shape bring an intense sound that pleases music lovers of his time and of today and his reddish-brown varnish is one of the very best of all time.
1743 Piacenza Cello
2016 SOLD for $ 1.5M by Tarisio
Guadagnini is listening the desires of the performers and changes from that early time the shape in a quest to improve the sound. Beyond the reform of the cello conceived by Stradivari, he creates shorter and broader instruments that delight the virtuosos by their easiness of use and their intense tone. His varnish is one of the very best of all time.
Piacenza has a significant musical culture. The Ferrari brothers were born here. Domenico Ferrari, violinist, had left for Cremona but his elder brother Carlo, cellist, lives in Piacenza. There is no documented evidence that Carlo Ferrari ever played an instrument made by Guadagnini but his influence is certain. When Ferrari moves to Milan in 1745, Guadagnini seems to become temporarily less interested in cellos. In 1749 he moves to Milan in his turn.
A cello made circa 1743 by Guadagnini was sold for $ 1.5M from a lower estimate of $ 800K by Tarisio on May 12, 2016, lot 40. This instrument is a good demonstrator of the precocious talent of the luthier, including a thick honey-colored varnish which prefigures his later achievements on the essential role of the coating in the sound quality of an instrument of the quartet.
1773-1775 Turin Violin
2018 SOLD for £ 1.6M by Tarisio
Count Cozio di Salabue is passionate about violins and especially with the achievements from Cremona. His father owned an Amati. Aged 16 in 1771, the Piedmontese is in Turin for a military period. He meets Guadagnini at that time.
Guadagnini is the most effective designer of violins of his time but Cozio admires Stradivari. Guadagnini is looking for customers. He agrees in 1774 to work almost exclusively for Cozio.
The young aristocrat designates his partner as the ultimate successor to Stradivari. This qualifier is consistent with the hypothesis that Guadagnini had learned his trade with the old master. His instruments made in Turin are identified by the label "Joannes Baptista Guadagnini Cremonensis fecit Taurini. alumnus Antoni Stradivari", to be however considered with caution because it also appears on posthumous pieces.
A violin from that first Cozio period, made in 1773-1775, was sold for £ 1.6M by Tarisio on June 25, 2018, lot 176.
The formal contract is broken in 1777 and Guadagnini can again diversify his production. A violin made in Turin in 1778 was sold on October 17, 2013 for $ 1.39M by Tarisio, lot 296. On February 22, 2018, the same auction house sold for $ 1.25M a violin dated 1779, lot 157.
Guadagnini continues in parallel to produce imitations of Stradivarius for the use of Cozio. He manages it with some freedom so that his Stradivarius models are not identifiable. These instruments are signed Joannes Baptista Guadagnini Cremonensis fecit Taurini on a label.
1783 Turin Cello ex Rostropovich
2018 SOLD for £ 1.93M by Sotheby's
Arrived in 1771 in Turin which will be his fourth and last residence, Guadagnini agrees from 1773 to 1777 to work exclusively for Cozio who was a great admirer of Stradivari. At this time Guadagnini adds the information "Cremonensis alumnus Antonii Stradivari" on his labels. His cellos of this period are short, without loss of sound thanks to a modification of the shape which increases the surface of wood in the cavity.
Mstislav Rostropovich was one of the greatest performers of the cello. For his first success, the gold medal at the Soviet Young Musicians Competition in 1945, he had played a Guadagnini.
In exile from 1974, Rostropovich had appraised the cello of his first glory and learned that its label was apocryphal and that the instrument had nothing to do with a Guadagnini. He is therefore on the watch to acquire an excellent Guadagnini. He will wait a quarter of a century.
The Guadagnini cello bought by Rostropovich in 2000 is from the best period : made in Turin in 1783 three years before the death of the luthier, it is one of the last instruments of the master and has kept intact its dark intense red-brown varnish typical of that period. It was sold for £ 1.93M from a lower estimate of £ 1M by Sotheby's on November 28, 2018, lot 42.
Take an unprecedented glimpse into the lives and loves of two of Russia’s greatest musical legends. Visit our London galleries to view the private collection of #Rostropovich and Vishnevskaya or click ahead to see highlights https://t.co/tDnS2NOICK #SothebysRussia pic.twitter.com/ymPge0oA5s— Sotheby's (@Sothebys) November 23, 2018