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The Authors

Stradivarius

Charles Beare obe studied violin making at the Mittenwald School in

The name Stradivarius has long evoked the idea of creative genius.

1958–59, and studied in New York at the invitation of the leading expert

Antonio Stradivari (c.1644–1737) is the creator of the classic model and his

Rembert Wurlitzer at the beginning of 1960. There, he received training in

craft celebrates intrinsic beauty and powerful melody.

the art of restoration under Simone Fernando Sacconi, and at the same

The Ashmolean exhibition will, surprisingly, be the first major showing

time had the opportunity to study more than a hundred instruments by

of his work in Britain. In every case, the twenty-one instruments discussed

Antonio Stradivari. After returning to the UK in 1961, Charles took charge

are the finest and most beautiful of their kind.

of the workshop, and in due course the running of the family business

This book makes a landmark contribution to the existing literature on

which had begun in 1892 and went onto become the leading house of its

Stradivari and provides an insight into the Stradivari vision through the

kind in London, specialising in fine instruments.

turbulent tales and examination of the mysterious qualities that

Charles chaired the Scientific Committee for the exhibition in Cremona

contribute to the immortal reputation enjoyed by Stradivari’s instruments among players and audiences across the world. With a foreword by

1987. In the following year he was awarded Honorary Citzenship of the City.

virtuoso violinist and Stradivarius player, James Ehnes, the catalogue also

Peter Beare studied violin making in Salt Lake City and since then has worked as a maker and restorer of stringed instruments with J & A Beare Ltd in London, Etienne Vatelot in Paris, Premysl and Jan Spidlen in Prague, and Carl Becker in Wisconsin. He now concentrates on making new instruments in rural Kent. Carlo Chiesa was born in Milan in 1962. He graduated from the Scuola di Liuteria in Milan and studied history and philosophy at the Catholic University. A few years later, he opened his own workshop, where he makes violins, violas, ’cellos, and viols. He is particularly interested in making and setting up Baroque instruments. In 2003 he was appointed conservator of stringed instruments at the Giuseppe Verdi Conservatory in Milan. Dr Jon Whiteley has been Assistant Keeper of Western Art at the Ashmolean Museum since 1977, and is currently Senior Curator of European Art, specialising in French and British paintings and drawings, and with curatorial responsibility for the Museum’s collection of musical instruments. His publications include Ingres (1976), Sixteenth-Century French Ornament Drawings in the Ashmolean (1996), and a complete catalogue of French Drawings in the Ashmolean (2000). He curated the exhibition, Claude Lorrain: Drawings from the Collections of the British Museum and the Ashmolean Museum held at the British Museum and Ashmolean in 1998; and the major exhibition, Claude Lorrain: the Enchanted Landscape held at the Ashmolean and the Städel Museum, Frankfurt in 2011–12. He is at present preparing a catalogue of the later French paintings in the Ashmolean.

front jacket 1683 The ‘Cipriani Potter’ Violin

back jacket 1716 ‘Le Messie’ Violin

charles beare peter beare carlo chiesa jon whiteley

which celebrated the 250th anniversary of Antonio Stradivari’s death in

features essays by world-renowned luthier and expert, Charles Beare obe; his son, Peter Beare; the luthier and violin historian, Carlo Chiesa; and Dr Jon Whiteley of the Ashmolean Museum. New catalogue entries record the fascinating stories of the instruments’ provenance and the details of their manufacture. Fresh photography has been completed by Tucker Densley with an expertise that is familiar throughout the violin world.


Stradivarius pp001-047 v7_SF_Layout 1 22/05/13 17.05 Pagina 44

Fig. 30 Original neck of The ‘Lady Blunt’ of 1721

Fig. 31 Original neck of The ‘Lady Blunt’ of 1721

In figs 30 and 31 you can see the pieces of wood added at the end of the neck and also between the neck heel and button on the back of the ‘Lady Blunt’ in order to suit the modern fingerboard and set-up. This photo also shows staining from three nails that originally helped secure the neck in place and an interesting view of the well-preserved button and its chamfer. The purity of condition of the instruments exhibited here offers a unique chance for inquisitive violinmakers to observe details of Stradivari’s workmanship, such as how he handled his edgework and the chamfer of the scroll, which are harder to discern on the majority of his instruments that have been subject to greater ravages of time and wear. There is no doubting the attraction of the beautiful wear patterns one sees in the varnish of early Cremonese instruments, and makers ever since have been tempted to copy this feature by ‘antiquing’ the varnish of their own instruments in order to make them more attractive to players. However, to those who are more familiar with the great Cremonese and other instruments, it is far more exciting to come across a pure, unworn example. The varnish of ‘Le Messie’ and the ‘Lady Blunt’ are in particularly mint condition and it is interesting to note that even in the nineteenth century the great French maker Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume found it hard to sell new-looking instruments until after he had brought ‘Le Messie’ to Paris. Perhaps this exhibition will once again inspire makers and players alike further to appreciate instruments made the way they would have been in the time of Stradivari. Note: The ms numbers refer to the numbering system of the Museo Stradivariano in Cremona.

44

stradivari’s tools and designs

opposite 1721 The ‘Lady Blunt’ overleaf View of Cremona from The present state of all the countries and nations of the world ... Volume XIX by Thomaso Salmon, 1751


Stradivarius pp001-047 v7_SF_Layout 1 22/05/13 17.06 Pagina 45


Stradivarius pp048-224 v7_SF_Layout 1 22/05/13 17.25 Pagina 64


Stradivarius pp048-224 v7_SF_Layout 1 21/05/13 11.44 Pagina 65

Front arch

Back arch

Paste inlay on lower ribs; modern endpin


Stradivarius pp048-224 v7_SF_Layout 1 22/05/13 16.55 Pagina 204


Stradivarius pp048-224 v7_SF_Layout 1 22/05/13 16.59 Pagina 205

Original bass bar

Underside view of the original fingerboard

Side view of the original fingerboard

Detail of the button at the top of the back

View of original neck showing staining from nails used to secure it in place

Detail of purfling and locating pin at the lower end of the back

Above view of the scroll

205


The Authors

Stradivarius

Charles Beare obe studied violin making at the Mittenwald School in

The name Stradivarius has long evoked the idea of creative genius.

1958–59, and studied in New York at the invitation of the leading expert

Antonio Stradivari (c.1644–1737) is the creator of the classic model and his

Rembert Wurlitzer at the beginning of 1960. There, he received training in

craft celebrates intrinsic beauty and powerful melody.

the art of restoration under Simone Fernando Sacconi, and at the same

The Ashmolean exhibition will, surprisingly, be the first major showing

time had the opportunity to study more than a hundred instruments by

of his work in Britain. In every case, the twenty-one instruments discussed

Antonio Stradivari. After returning to the UK in 1961, Charles took charge

are the finest and most beautiful of their kind.

of the workshop, and in due course the running of the family business

This book makes a landmark contribution to the existing literature on

which had begun in 1892 and went onto become the leading house of its

Stradivari and provides an insight into the Stradivari vision through the

kind in London, specialising in fine instruments.

turbulent tales and examination of the mysterious qualities that

Charles chaired the Scientific Committee for the exhibition in Cremona

contribute to the immortal reputation enjoyed by Stradivari’s instruments among players and audiences across the world. With a foreword by

1987. In the following year he was awarded Honorary Citzenship of the City.

virtuoso violinist and Stradivarius player, James Ehnes, the catalogue also

Peter Beare studied violin making in Salt Lake City and since then has worked as a maker and restorer of stringed instruments with J & A Beare Ltd in London, Etienne Vatelot in Paris, Premysl and Jan Spidlen in Prague, and Carl Becker in Wisconsin. He now concentrates on making new instruments in rural Kent. Carlo Chiesa was born in Milan in 1962. He graduated from the Scuola di Liuteria in Milan and studied history and philosophy at the Catholic University. A few years later, he opened his own workshop, where he makes violins, violas, ’cellos, and viols. He is particularly interested in making and setting up Baroque instruments. In 2003 he was appointed conservator of stringed instruments at the Giuseppe Verdi Conservatory in Milan. Dr Jon Whiteley has been Assistant Keeper of Western Art at the Ashmolean Museum since 1977, and is currently Senior Curator of European Art, specialising in French and British paintings and drawings, and with curatorial responsibility for the Museum’s collection of musical instruments. His publications include Ingres (1976), Sixteenth-Century French Ornament Drawings in the Ashmolean (1996), and a complete catalogue of French Drawings in the Ashmolean (2000). He curated the exhibition, Claude Lorrain: Drawings from the Collections of the British Museum and the Ashmolean Museum held at the British Museum and Ashmolean in 1998; and the major exhibition, Claude Lorrain: the Enchanted Landscape held at the Ashmolean and the Städel Museum, Frankfurt in 2011–12. He is at present preparing a catalogue of the later French paintings in the Ashmolean.

front jacket 1683 The ‘Cipriani Potter’ Violin

back jacket 1716 ‘Le Messie’ Violin

charles beare peter beare carlo chiesa jon whiteley

which celebrated the 250th anniversary of Antonio Stradivari’s death in

features essays by world-renowned luthier and expert, Charles Beare obe; his son, Peter Beare; the luthier and violin historian, Carlo Chiesa; and Dr Jon Whiteley of the Ashmolean Museum. New catalogue entries record the fascinating stories of the instruments’ provenance and the details of their manufacture. Fresh photography has been completed by Tucker Densley with an expertise that is familiar throughout the violin world.


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