J.B. Guadagnini, Turin c. 1776
A very fine example from his Turin period, this violin has all the tonal characteristics that have made the instruments of J.B. Guadagnini so highly prized and sought after by the most demanding players. With a complex range of tone color and response, this violin blends a bold, deep richness in the low end, with evenness, strength and color into the middle, and beyond to the highs with clarity, sweetness and brilliance. The projection is superb with a strong core to each note, allowing the subltety of depth and softness to be heard as well as the commanding sound of aggressive and soaring passages.
Typical of Guadagnini’s work while in Turin, the violin has a bold design and appears almost massive in size. At 352 mm. in body length however, its actual size is compact and comfortable and shows the master’s continuity with that optical phenomenon shared with all the other great makers of the classical period. The arching of the top plate is full and strong, extending well under the fingerboard and tailpiece before descending toward the upper and lower blocks. Laterally the arching is full and dips only slightly just before reaching the edges. Interestingly, the arching of the back is quite unlike that of the front. Its sleek, flat design appears quite opposite that of the top. The high point comes just below the center and the arching descends the length and width of the back directly to the edges. Guadagnini was obviously quite intentional in designing the body in this way and it is this dramatic difference between the top and back that contributes so much to the success of this acoustic design. The top is strong with a broad vibrating plane, and the back vibrates freely while pushing sound up and outward through the f-holes. The wood choice is visually and acoustically excellent, with the top wood of resonant open grain and the back of a single piece of maple with striking medium flames. The sides are of maple with a handsome and slightly broader width flame. The varnish is a vibrant golden-brown color that hightens the reflectivity of the wood underneath. The scroll is from another hand and yet is of a bold and characteristic design of the period and made for the violin.
A player’s instrument in every way, this violin is a thrill to play and to hear. It is a masterpiece both visually and acoustically, and testifies to the genius of this great maker. Inquiries and appointments for trial are most welcome and can be made by phone, email, or in person.
Certification: photo certificate by Charles Beare, Beare Violins Ltd., 15 June 2017.
photocopy certificate of Max Möller, Amsterdam, 6 February 1940.
certificate of W.E. Hill & Sons, London, 24 April 1936 referenced in Möller cert. (since lost)
Dendrochronology report: Peter Ratcliff, London, 20 February 2017.
Provenance: purchased from Max Möller in 1940 by Piet van’t Kaar; sold by descendants in 2017. Mr. van’t Kaar also purchased other fine instruments, a Hendrik Jacobs, Vincenzo Rugeri and Francois Tourte bow between 1929 and 1951.
Inventory #: 146/25