The Royal Academy of Music’s famous strings collection consists of nearly 300 instruments, the majority of which were received as gifts over the last century.
In 1890, John Rutson (1829-1906), an amateur musician who became a director of the Royal Academy of Music, gave an important group of stringed instruments to the institution. The collection began in 1906 with the receipt of his bequest. This included two violins, 1694 Rutson and 1718 Maurin, and the magnificent 1696 Archinto viola, all by Antonio Stradivari. Among other fine instruments in the Rutson Collection are three important examples by members of the Amati family, including a rare tenor viola.
Various important and interesting instruments, including from the Rutson Collection, are displayed in the Academy Museum’s Strings Gallery. Many Academy collection instruments are also lent to young Academy musicians during their studentship. The collection as a whole represents a wide cross-section of instruments, including examples from the Italian, French, German and Dutch schools of making, as well as a broad sample of fine British work.