Left to right: The Francesca, 1694 ~ The Antonius, 1711 ~ The Gould, 1693
courtesy of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
A century of violin making in Cremona culminated in the instruments from the workshop of Antonio Stradivari. Violins are judged by their tone, responsiveness, elegance of design, visual appeal, and precision of their craft, and the instruments of Stradivari are superlative in all categories. From his extraordinary seventy-year career as a luthier, 650 instruments survive, a testament both to his productivity and longevity, and to the high value placed on his instruments. During the 1680s, Stradivari moved away from Nicolò Amati’s style, experimenting with his own soundhole shapes, softer varnish, and a stronger tone. During the 1690s, he worked to perfect a “long pattern” violin, with a longer, narrower body and a darker tone than most Cremonese strings.
Beginning about 1700, Stradivari reverted to a shorter, wider design, his “grand pattern,” and embarked on the two decades that many writers call his 'golden Age'. Stradivari also made violas and a number of stringed instruments, including viols, lutes, mandolins, guitars, and harps. At his death, his business passed into the hands of his son, Francesco (1671-1743). While the instruments of Stradivari were certainly appreciated during his long lifetime, it was not until the late eighteenth century, when several violin virtuosi publicly favoured instruments by Stradivari and Bartolomeo Giuseppe Guarneri, that his work was seen as the epitome of the luthier’s art.
the above text appears on the back of the card HC-578: card size 7" x 5" (178mm x 127mm)