This illustration of a viola by Paolo Antonio Testore was published in The Strad, January 1973. The following text is extracted from the article accompanying the photographs:
The well-known Testore family of violin makers were active in Milan during the latter part of the 17th and first half of the 18th century. There were three members of the family, Carlo Giuseppe Testore, the father and founder, who was born at Novara in 1660 and died in 1738, and his two sons, Carlo Antonio, born in 1687 and Paolo Antonio, born in 1690.
The father, Carlo Giuseppe, a pupil of Giovanni Grancino, Milan, taught the craft to his two sons, who worked together until 1710 when they parted to set up on their own. The violins and violas made by the two sons were rather variable in workmanship and quality as they aimed at producing instruments of modest cost to meet the demands from a clientele who could not afford to pay high prices.
But some were of really excellent quality and finish, and in spite of using rather plain and poor wood figure, the brothers hardly ever made an instrument which did not possess a good tone – they had the rare faculty of selecting wood of outstanding tonal quality coupled with the knowledge of choosing the right belly for the right back to give that sonorous tone so esteemed by players.
The viola illustrated here is of bold proportions and is entirely in its original dimensions, the principal measurements of which are: length of back 16 5/8 inches; lower bouts 9 1/1 3/6 inches; top 7 1/8 inches; and ribs 1 ½ inches to 1 7/16 inches. The back is of one piece of native wood with little figure and is not purfled but has two lines drawn in imitation. The sides also of little figure, head rather plain and fluted at the back. The table is cut from a vigorous piece of pine with the grain opening a little towards the flanks, and the varnish is of a golden brown colour.