In Focus: A c.1680 double bass by Girolamo Amati II

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René Zaal details an instrument by the son of the more well-known Nicolò Amati, and the grandson of his namesake Girolamo Amati I

Girolamo Amati II was the son of the more well-known Nicolò Amati, the grandson of his namesake Girolamo Amati I, and the great-grandson of the founder of the dynasty, Andrea Amati. With such illustrious names behind him, one could be forgiven for considering Girolamo II one of the lesser Cremonese makers; however, his instruments stand up well to those of his forebears and many of his contemporaries in the city.

Girolamo II was a near-contemporary of Stradivari: he was born in 1649, five years after Antonio, and died three years after him, in 1740. Unlike Stradivari, however, he did not spend his whole working life in Cremona; in 1697 he left for Piacenza, although he eventually returned to his home town. Having apprenticed in his father’s workshop, Girolamo was clearly channelling Nicolò in his earlier instruments, whereas his later style showed the influence of Stradivari: his archings become lower and his varnish is of a deeper, redder hue. Girolamo Amati II was not a prolific maker and had no pupils, and so with his demise, the four generations of Amati violin makers came to an end…

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