Violin by Andrea Guarneri, Cremona, c.1665

Object type
Stringed instrument: Violin by Andrea Guarneri, Cremona, c.1665

This charming violin is typical of Andrea's work, and dates from around 1665. The model is loosely based on the smaller Amati pattern, but the middle bouts are elongated and the corners more outward pointing. The relatively short body length is accentuated by the slightly inverted curve across the bottom block.

Although lacking in symmetry, the curves of the outline flow together in a robust and handsome manner, as do the roughly inlaid purflings which vary in width. Characteristically for Andrea the tips of the purfling mitres, or "bee stings", are deflected very sharply across the corners. Andrea's looser approach to workmanship set the pattern for successive makers in his family, clearly differentiating them from the more conscientious Amati tradition and culminating in the dramatic contrast in styles between Guarneri del Gesu and Antonio Stradivari.

In contrast to the elegant work of the Amatis, the edge fluting here is roughly finished while being wide and deeply sunk, particularly in the corners. This creates a pronounced raised border outside the purfling line, while the arching crest is pinched along the centre line, particularly on the back. The close positioning and upright stance of the soundholes are characteristic of the maker, as is the choice of wide-grained spruce and the plain field-maple back. These rather plain cuts are enhanced in beauty by the fine quality of the ground and the pale orange varnish top coat.

The irregularly figured head is a fine and characteristic example, with narrow first and wide second turns of the volutes, while fine tool scarring is clearly visible around the channels and on the flat surface. The strong knife cut chamfers remain well defined.

This violin was in the hands of the English collector William Thompson some time before c.1845. His initials remain clearly branded on the scroll.
Date made
maple, spruce, ebony
Object type
Type Length Width Height Diameter Unit (length)
Stop 197 mm
Neck 130 mm
Back 359 mm
Upper Bout 160 mm
Middle Bout 106 mm
Lower Bout 197 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


Follow us on Twitter@RoyalAcadMusic@RoyalAcadMusic #museum
@RoyalAcadMusic • Sep 06
Here's one from our #museum collection of the great JS Bach! Watch this space for information about our exciting ne……
@RoyalAcadMusic • Aug 26
Today is #WomensEqualityDay! Come and celebrate the amazing women of the Academy in our free #museum exhibition:……
@RoyalAcadMusic • Jun 15
Filming with @GylesB1 and @BBCTheOneShow this afternoon in our museum! #TheOneShow #museum #stradivarius

Have an enquiry about the Museum and Collections?

Museum Enquiry-Painting