Violin by Joannes Francesco Pressenda, Turin, 1833

Object type
Bequeathed by John Rutson,
Stringed instrument: Violin by Joannes Francesco Pressenda, Turin, 1833

This well-preserved example of 1833 is beautifully characteristic of the maker at his best, showing his keen eye for detail and balance and his distinguished craftsmanship. It is modelled closely on Stradivari's style, but not a direct copy. The bold outline is broader and heavily chamfered, the shoulders slightly sloping and the arching flatter, particularly in the area between the wide-spaced and elegant soundholes. The scroll is beautifully sculpted with deeply-carved, flowing volutes and with blackened edges, now partially worn. Typically for Pressenda, the scroll is quite broad across the eyes, which themselves are relatively large and prominent. The deeply scored centre line between the flutings is a definitive characteristic of the maker's work. Pressenda experimented with several varnishes during his career, including a slightly inferior deep-red recipe which penetrated the wood grain. Here the broad-flamed maple of the back glows beneath a generous covering of luminous dark-orange varnish which has a fine, crazed texture. In areas where the top coat has worn away the coloured ground is revealed, reflecting light from dark yellow to light brown.
Date made
Played for a period by Jean Harvey, Professor at the Royal Academy of Music,


Neilsen, Unaccompanied Violin Works, (Chandos, originally BBC)
played by Jean Harvey
maple, spruce, ebony
Object type
Type Length Width Height Diameter Unit (length)
Stop 195 mm
Neck 130 mm
Back 356 mm
Upper Bout 167 mm
Middle Bout 112 mm
Lower Bout 208 mm
Back (with caliper) mm
Upper Bout (with caliper) mm
Middle Bout (with caliper) mm
Lower Bout (with caliper) mm
Total String Length mm
Accession No


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