Violin by Antonio and Girolamo Amati, Cremona, 1606
About Antonio and Girolamo AmatiAntonio and Girolamo were the sons of Andrea Amati, the inventor of the violin. They trained under their father and later worked for him in his Cremonese workshop, continuing to make violins together after his death in 1577. Their importance to violin making cannot be overstated: whilst their father Andrea designed the instrument, it was the two brothers who enlarged the form to the dimensions we know today. They made violins, violas and cellos in many different sizes, evidently experimenting to find the optimum pattern for each.
Unfortunately, the two brothers fell out in 1588: after this date Girolamo continued to use the Brothers Amati label whilst his brother made instruments under his own label, very few of which survive. Antonio died around 1610 and Girolamo died of the plague in 1630, leaving his workshop to his son Nicolò. As the fourth member of this incredible dynasty, Nicolò went on to cement the Amati name as one of the most important in violin making history.
About the violinThe violin was made in 1606, making this one of the many instruments labelled Brothers Amati which was in fact made post-feud. The back is made from a single piece of maple, with a light curl of medium width running across the back. The ribs are of a similar wood but with a narrower figure. The scroll, whilst not original to the violin, is of a similar wood to the ribs. The table is made in two pieces of narrow grain spruce which widens slightly towards the sides. The varnish is of a red brown colour laid over a golden ground.
The length of back is 344mm, making the violin 6mm smaller than what we think of as full size, however the string length is 326 mm. Because of the standard string length and sublimely beautiful, enticing tone, my experience of playing this violin as a 6-foot tall violinist is that one very quickly forgets about its size. As an added bonus, I´ve found that the chords in my solo Bach practice have never felt quite so comfortable before!
How does it sound?Don´t let its small stature fool you: this is a powerhouse of an Italian violin! This instrument projects with supreme ease, allowing the player to focus on the intricate subtleties of tone and colour without having to work to be heard. I never fail to be beguiled by the sheer beauty of the tone: this is a violin that sings in any style.
ConditionThe violin is in very good restored condition. Whilst there are of course some restorations, as would be expected of an instrument over 400 years old, the violin retains a great deal of its original varnish and has been sensitively maintained over the years. It has clearly been lovingly played over its long life: see the bottom treble side of the back, where the edgework has worn away up to the purling over the years. The head is a later addition to an otherwise fully original violin. The violin comes with a complete condition report.
CertificationThe violin comes with the certificate of Peter Biddulph.
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