Violin by Matthew Hardie, Edinburgh,1801
This violin has now sold.
About Matthew HardiePopularly known as the `Scottish Stradivari´, Matthew Hardie was a remarkably talented luthier whose impact on Scottish violin making cannot be underestimated.
Hardie was born in the Borders town of Jedburgh in 1754 and was baptised in the Associate Church there on the 27th of November that year. His father, Stephen Hardie, was a clockmaker in the town and young Hardie trained as a joiner before joining the South Fencible Regiment in 1778. He married the next year and left the regiment in 1782. Sadly, life was not kind to Hardie and his family: constant financial trouble, alcoholism and the death of first wife and son within a few months of each other all took their toll. Hardie´s unstable finances led to the production of a number of less fine instruments alongside those of excellent quality.
Hardie´s name is first mentioned in connection to music when we see him noted as a subscriber to Neil Gow´s Second Collection in 1788. It is not clear how the joiner from Jedburgh became Scotland´s finest violin maker: various suggestions have been made as to a possible teacher but no concrete evidence exists. Hardie was known to have boasted that his instruments were inferior to none of the London-made instruments: we can certainly confirm that he is now considered to be the most important Scottish violin maker to have lived. It is interesting that Hardie compared his work to the London trade: his instruments look remarkably similar to those of a number of his London counterparts, most notably the Panormo family.
Matthew Hardie died in 1826, having been imprisoned as a debtor in the notorious Calton Hill jail and then admitted to the Edinburgh Charity Workhouse some time afterwards. Some parts of the workhouse still stand today and can be seen from the site of Hardie´s gravestone in Greyfriar´s Kirkyard. Hardie´s son Thomas continued the business until his early death in 1856.
About the violinThe violin was made in Edinburgh in 1801. This was a particularly hard time in Hardie´s personal life: his first wife died in September that year and one of his young sons died shortly after.
Despite this personal hardship, this was the period during which Hardie produced some of his finest work. In 1801 some former colleagues of Hardie from his military days raised money to allow him to buy top-quality supplies. Hardie was also commissioned to copy the Alday Strad about this time, completing the violin in 1803. The imported maple used for this violin, another made in 1801 and the Alday copy is of all of extremely high quality.
The violin has a one piece back of fine-flamed maple. The ribs are of similar wood and the scroll is of slightly plainer maple. The front is two pieces of fine-grained spruce which widens towards the flanks. The varnish is a characteristic golden yellow.
The violin is modelled after the instruments of Stradivari and has a length of back of 358 mm.
How does it sound?This is a truly exceptional Hardie! It´s hugely classy and very responsive, changing character almost instantly. The violin has a bell-like clarity to the tone and is full of overtones. A fantastic instrument and a a great pleasure to play!
ConditionThe violin is in very good condition.