Viola by Arthur Richardson, Crediton, 1951

Viola by Arthur Richardson, Crediton, 1951

About Arthur Richardson

Arthur Richardson was originally from Derbyshire but had his workshop in Crediton, Devonshire, for most of his career. He was largely self-taught as a violin maker, making mainly Stradivari model violins very successfully from around 1915. He is most well-known for his Tertis model violas.

Richardson met the viola soloist Lionel Tertis for this first time in 1937, sparking a collaboration that was to bring both men great success. Tertis had spent his career playing on very large instruments, most notably a a 1717 viola by Montagnana which measured a massive 17 and 1/8". Upon his retiral, Tertis threw himself into developing a new model for the viola which would have the rich sonority he favoured, without the challenges of getting around such a big instrument.

The resulting Tertis model viola, developed in collaboration with Richardson, achieved these goals through the design of a narrow upper bout with dropped shoulders which allows for ease of movement in the higher registers. The volume of the body is maximised by balancing this with larger lower bouts and higher ribs.

About the viola

Made in 1951, the label identifies this Richardson´s 129th instrument. It is an excellent example of the Tertis model viola as described above.

The viola has a two piece back of medium-flamed maple. The front is two pieces of good-quality spruce with the grain widening slightly towards the flanks. The varnish is Richardson´s characteristically soft red colour. This varnish tends to wear with use as Richardson´s varnish was not particularly hard: the fact that this viola retains so much of its original varnish speaks to the great care which has been taken with the instrument over the years.

The length of back is 16 and 3/8 inches.

How does it sound

This viola is explosive and intoxicating! It has an incredible energy to the sound which makes it very compelling for both player and listener. It has an enormous range of colour and is even across the strings with good response. A great playing instrument!


The viola is in mint original condition. Although it has been newly set-up ready for its next partner, the original bridge will come with the instrument.

Further information

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