In Focus: A c.1900 violin by Raffo Cipriani


Ernst Fuchs looks at the Italian maker’s late-period instrument

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Raffo Cipriani was born in 1829 in Chiavari, a town on the Ligurian coast around 25 miles east of Genoa. Like many Italian violin makers of that era, he began his career as a carpenter. In 1852 one of his English-style chestnut tables was exhibited, and won high praise from the president of Chiavari’s chamber of commerce. He received several awards during his lifetime for the high quality of his craftsmanship.

Cipriani also became well known for his musical instruments, and was mentioned in a number of publications around 1900. His work was considered highly accurate and beautiful, as well as somewhat massive. Nothing is known about his apprenticeship, but his working style is based on that of the contemporary Genoese masters with whose work he would have been well acquainted.

Cipriani’s business was based in the Via Vittorio Emanuele in Chiavari, where it was described in the 1892 Annuario d’Italia, Calendario generale del Regno as a shop for jewellery and haberdashery. He died there in 1904 at the age of 75…

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