Violin by Nicolo Amati, Cremona, 1662

Object type
Bequeathed by John Rutson,
Stringed instrument: Violin by Nicolo Amati, Cremona, 1662

This Nicolo Amati violin of 1662 is a well-preserved and beautiful example. The model for it was Nicolo's largest and most favoured instrument, known as the "Grand Amati", first encountered on the violin made for the brothers Amati in 1629. This design was one of his greatest achievements, providing the basis for both Antonio Stradivari's and Guarneri del Gesu's later developments. Its bolder dimensions are today considered ideal.

In Amati instruments the edge is hollowed markedly before rising gently up to the arching inside the purfling line - a characteristic which is sometimes more exaggerated in Nicolo's instruments of the 1640-50 period than in those of his father or grandfather. Although adequate for the tonal requirements of the time, this type of arching restricts the vibration in the table and provides a rich but not powerful sound. This important detail was improved by Nicolo during the 1660s and later by his son Girolamo, whose fuller archings increase the vibrating area of the plates as well as the depth and reserves of tone.

On this violin the corners are less elongated than on earlier Amati instruments; the purfling is distinguished by broader black strips, and is inlaid with great precision, reinforcing the flowing curves of the outline. The lower wings of the soundholes are long and tapering. In common with all other classical makers, Nicolo drilled the perfectly formed finial circles with a special cutting tool.

The head is finely carved and compact, while it is clear that the slightly worn chamfers around the volutes were originally heavier than on the 1629 "Brothers" violin. Typically, the head wood is of a plainer cut than that of the back, which here is of tightly figured quarter-sawn maple. Its appearance is greatly enhanced by the reflective satin-textured honey-brown varnish.
Amati, Nicolo, maker
Date made
woodwork, violin, stringed instrument, violins, Cremonese
maple, spruce, ebony
Object type
Type Length Width Height Diameter Unit (length)
Stop 195 mm
Neck 130 mm
Back 354.5 mm
Upper Bout 167 mm
Middle Bout 111 mm
Lower Bout 207.5 mm
Back (with caliper) mm
Upper Bout (with caliper) mm
Middle Bout (with caliper) mm
Lower Bout (with caliper) mm
Total String Length 328 mm
Object No
Amati, Nicolo, maker


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