Enfilade

J & A Beare and Amati Release Books on 18th-Century Violins

Posted in Art Market, books by Editor on August 25, 2014

“With the closure of Sotheby’s and Christie’s music departments, Amati is leaping into the gap in the market with gusto and is changing the shape of the industry. Amati not only provides owners with a valuation service but allows dealers and makers around the world to upload their instruments, with full provenance and documentation for the valuable instruments.” More usefully for most of us, Amati’s online magazine includes reviews of concerts and recordings. -CH

From Art Daily (24 August 2014). . .

Pucelle-2138_0042

Antonio Stradivari ‘La Pucelle’ Violin, 1709

The Monograph Collection is a collaboration between J & A Beare and Amati, who will be releasing a series of books each dedicated to a single masterwork of the classical school of violin making. The Monograph Collection books are sold as an annual subscription and are available to pre-order, with the first three books due out in September and the fourth in December. Each volume includes a detailed history as well as descriptive text on the technical and aesthetic features of each instrument, alongside professional photos and measurements. Written by strings specialist John Dilworth, it is hoped that the books will become treasured collector’s items.

Extract from I – Antonio Stradivari ‘La Pucelle’ Violin 1709: “The soundholes are wonderfully elegant and beautifully finished, as one would expect. They sit with great poise and balance on the front, the edges still looking sharp enough to cut paper. Comparing these virtually perfect soundholes with those on other celebrated instruments by Stradivari brings home the great variation observable in position, inclination, widths, and even symmetry in the work as a whole. These particular soundholes on ‘La Pucelle’ are cut with a quite generous width in the arm, a feature going back to the 1680s. Amongst these and later examples there are soundhole pairs that lean inwardly at the upper hole, and later there appear soundholes cut with a slender arm, set sometimes very upright and parallel. Then, in the Golden Period and beyond, there appear mixtures of all these traits in pairs of soundholes on the same instrument. The explanations for all this apparently random treatment lie in the techniques Stradivari used to draw out the soundholes and the obvious fact that there were more than one pair of hands at work in the atelier.”

Amati, the marketplace for stringed instruments, was set up to offer free evaluations and to provide transparency in the sale and purchase of violins, cellos, violas and bows—from a child’s violin to mid-range instruments for young professionals and antique violins of the highest calibre. By taking the market online, it empowers buyers and sellers to become better informed about an industry often shrouded in mystique. For those with a violin gathering dust in an attic, Amati is the first port of call for finding out the value of an instrument and sourcing comparisons, to enable those with little knowledge to access accurate information in the public domain. Amati will also be providing access to illustrated, hardbound monographs written by John Dilworth on some of the most famous Stradivarius violins and cellos in existence. With the closure of Sotheby’s and Christie’s music departments, Amati is leaping into the gap in the market with gusto and is changing the shape of the industry. Amati not only provides owners with a valuation service but allows dealers and makers around the world to upload their instruments, with full provenance and documentation for the valuable instruments.

Amati was co-founded by husband and wife team James and Sarah Buchanan in July 2013. Sarah is the company Director, while James offers specialist expertise in valuations. He has gained expert knowledge of the industry, having co-founded a specialist auction house in 2006, after running the Music Department at Christie’s Auctioneers in London.

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3 Responses

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  1. Michael Yonan said, on August 25, 2014 at 2:16 pm

    I’ve always found old violins such as the one pictured to be incredibly beautiful purely as objects.

    • Editor said, on August 25, 2014 at 2:28 pm

      Yes, Michael, my response, too. The description from the extract made we wonder how we might think about this not only as an object of ‘music history’ but also as part of eighteenth-century material culture. More precisely, it got me thinking about The Early Modern Material Cultures Seminars from Cambridge, which pair two different kinds of expertise to explore ways of thinking about objects. It would be fun to hear a music historian and a furniture specialist talk about these extraordinary violins as objects. -Craig

      • yonanm said, on August 25, 2014 at 3:44 pm

        Indeed!
        I chaired a roundtable on material culture at the ASECS in San Antonio in which the speakers consisted of two art historians, two lit folks, and a music historian. The music historian had some very interesting things to say about music and material culture. 18C instruments often had a lot of imagery built into their structures. Harpsichords, for example. Plus collections of musical scores which were comparable to collections of prints, etc.


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