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From the archive: a violin by Joseph Guarneri del Gesu, 1738

Monday, 28 April 2014

This illustration of a violin by Joseph Guarneri del Gesu was published in The Strad, January 1925. The following text is extracted from an article accompanying the photographs:

This wonderful Joseph is indeed a fiddle which justifies the use of superlatives in any attempt to describe it, and one is compelled to resort to that much abused word, unique.

Its state of preservation is extraordinary, and in this respect it easily surpasses any example of del Gesu with which I am acquainted. The linings and blocks are all original, and in a strong light the nail holes in the top block are clearly visible. The varnish, a beautiful, clear orange red, is as fresh in most places as if it had been laid on last year, and the sound holes at their edges are quite as sharp and unworn.

The back shows a fairly broad curl. Near the purfling on the G side of the instrument a small piece of sycamore has been deftly inserted by the maker, doubtless to replace or make up a deficiency in the material.

The tone is wonderful; William Primrose, who is rapidly advancing in public estimation, was present during my examination and played on it for a considerable time. The D string is unusually telling, but the quality is charming on every string.

The principal measurements of the instrument are: Body length, 13 7/8ths inches; Width, upper bouts, 6 9/16ths; lower bouts, 8 1/8th; Height of sides, 1 3/16ths to 1 1/4.

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