Based in Cremona, the Friends of Stradivari network brings together instruments owned by collectors and stringed-instrument enthusiasts from around the world. The Strad Calendar 2018 celebrates twelve of these treasures, with this violin featuring in April. Text by John Dilworth
This later ‘del Gesù’, belonging to the Russian State Collection, is born of the very loose, improvisatory style that he developed from the late 1730s. The soundholes are quite asymmetrical, the wings cut at various lengths and angles, and the purfling crushed into the short, quickly cut corners. What is consistent though is the outline, still very much in the style of Amati, and very well controlled and smoothly delineated. The crowning glory of course is the rich red varnish covering the beautiful one-piece slab cut back, showing a beautiful rippling horizontal figure.
Its history is obscure. It was received in 1919, and the only previous owner is listed as Alexandra Vasilievna Unkovsky or Unkovskaya in the catalogue of the collection, and is presumably Alexandra Unkovskaya referred to as a music teacher in the early 20th century.
Photos: Claudio Mazzolari/Courtesy Fondazione Antonio Stradivari, Museo del Violino – Cremona