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Christopher Reuning

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Everything posted by Christopher Reuning

  1. I just viewed this astounding exhibit. It is not as comprehensive as 1987 Cremona, but the quality is more densely superb. Of special interest to me were the "Boissier" and the "Alard" which I had never seen. These two must be amongst the top half dozen violins in existence. Of course, the "Messie" is amazing but any silly doubters must surely be muzzled upon seeing it alongside its other golden period brethren. The Parke, Pucelle and Viotti are all superb as well and the three celli, Batta, Bass of Spain, and Christiani are an unmatched trio. There are two great long patterns which compare well especially as the later one is "faux" long pattern with normal length. I loved seeing the Kreisler alongside the Habaneck...these two violins perfectly illustrate the difference between Antonio's late work and his son Francesco. The catalogue is a must, photos are excellent (by Tucker Densley) and some great articles especially by Carlo Chiesa. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity not to be missed!
  2. I am not sure why everyone makes such a to-do about the AFVBM. I do not believe the group offers its members any strategic advantage or perceivable added credibility with clients. I also believe that the best dealers/experts are not members and on the other hand, there are a number of members I would not recommend to appraise a Roth. However, the AFVBM has raised the overall industry standards and has grown into an important organization in this country that is reasonably inclusive. Thankfully, non violinmakers who have other skills to offer can attend meetings in various capacities, and this has added tremendously to the overall level of discussion. I am an enthusiastic supporter of the organization because of the opportunity for learning that the semiannual meetings offer. I believe the group has made a substantial contribution to our field. My hope is that outreach, which is now limited to limited student attendance at meetings and a few publications, can grow a good deal.
  3. The other question that comes to mind is how long would this "verbal agreement" remain. Steve Kates tragically passed away nearly a decade ago by my memory. In my experience, I have never heard of a consignment agreement lasting over a year.
  4. Go to the Met and study the "Batta" for a few hours. (And any other forma B's you can find!)
  5. I have scarcely heard of weaker evidence supporting the idea that someone was a violinmaker. I must say that I don't see another mystery second hand in late del Gesu heads either...just my opinion.
  6. Sorry Woodland, That was me and Tucker Densley who was photographing the Batta for the upcoming Ashmolean exhibition. (A once-in-a-lifetime must see)
  7. I hasten to add that I have always found Jesse to be forthright, honest and quite pleasant in all my dealings with him. You people need to lighten up a little!
  8. There seems to be some confusion about my responsibility for issuing certificates for instruments sold by Tarisio Auctions. To be clear: from Jan. 1 2010 I sold my interest in that company and no longer am responsible for descriptions or decisions about authenticity. It is also untrue that prior to that date, I would certify anything or everything sold by Tarisio. Jesse, please edit your ebay listing and remove any reference to my guarantee of your merchandise.
  9. Another Deconet signature, this time from 37 years before the label of 1780 .
  10. Will, The first letter is hard to read but the others are "..rope". I suspect it is "Prope..." The label is printed and the ink touching up the letters matches the manuscript of "Setembre" and the last two digits of the date. (perhaps the third digit was printed and then partially scratched out by Deconet to change it from a 6 to an 8?) Flyboy, As usual, you are exhausting. If you actually read through Duane's posts, I am confounded that you did not understand his points. Maybe you tripped over some of his colorful language like "Pol Pot" and didn't get to the substance?
  11. Rick, You've hit the nail on the head. One can not really understand this topic without an understanding of the instruments themselves. If you start with the presumption that there is no cohesive body of work as Pio did, then you are more likely to grope for evidence that will support your confusion. An exhibit would be a great idea, but it would also be helpful to do a full technical analysis as John Becker did for the Bergonzi exhibition for instance. Even then, it is even more helpful to have a hands on study of an even broader range of a makers work than is typically shown in an exhibition. Jacob, I did not claim that Pio has not contributed to the conversation and I have read all of his books, actually. (more than once) I would point out that not one person who has been a proponent of the"Pio Doctrine" in this thread has made any substantive response to Duane's two detailed posts. I believe this thread (which I find more interesting than most Maestronet threads) will come to a pitiable close without a constructive discussion on topic. I'm not at all interested in dealing with accusations of ulterior motives and other such conspiracy theorists. (Sorry Stephen, Norman, etc)
  12. Nothing personal Stephen, sorry! I just happen to disagree with most of your conclusions in this thread but appreciate your participation. I am a bit surprised that you could find the handwriting samples so different.
  13. Surely, Jacob you must have something to contribute on topic then? The deafening silence from you and Venice defending the elaborate theory is notable...
  14. This is what I love about Maestronet: when logic fails, we can always rely on the battle tested ad hominem attack
  15. I am happy to see that Will L noticed the lower case "d" that appears on the label and the document. I agree that this is an important factor in the discussion. I was hoping that someone would notice the writing that appears faintly on the left side of the label. I have attached this image in reverse because it is actually the same ink that was applied to the reverse side of the label. Look carefully at this label, and you will see that Deconet took great care to touch up certain letters and add dots above the j for instance. I have also posted a Deconet signature from 1764 from archival sources. I'll try to post another label soon. I, for one, am not going to rely on Stephen Maloney's handwriting expertise (or any of his other areas of violin related "expertise" for that matter). I am not a handwriting expert either, but this all looks the same to me. I am beginning to understand the depth of Jacob's cynicism, but I really can't perceive any evidence that would support his and Pio's conclusion. It stretches all logic to imagine a violinist commissioning instruments, taking such care with the label, and somehow selling them as his own through the course of a lifetime (whether the Guild allowed such commerce or not). There really is no historical precedent for such fantasy!
  16. Dear All, For your interest, I have attached a photo of the label in the Deconet viola ex Boris Kroydt. Like many of the labels, he has inscribed it with the month it was made, "Setembre". I have also attached a Deconet signature from 1771 from archival sources. Christopher Reuning
  17. Dear Sig. Pio, I am sorry to be slow answering this question that you posed, but here it is: You wrote: >>I have at this moment under my eyes four Deconet cellos: one (1764) is illustrated in book “Les violons: Venetian instruments, paintings & drawngs, Paris 1995 ” with Beare/ Vatelot etc. approval, the second (1783) (Sotheby’s, London 23 Nov. 1988 ) is with Wurlitzer certificate, the third one (1754) is with Hill letter ( Sotheby’s, London 5 Nov. 1996) and the fourth ( Sotheby’s, London 16 June 1998) is with Hill and Hjorth certificate. You can see all these cellos in Cozio web site also. I would like to hear from experts, if these 4 cellos can be ascribed to the same author and if they can be considered the work of “a regular maker who progressed gradually, but whose instruments all hang together very well”. According to my opinion, they have nothing in common to share. >> For me, the 1st one "Paris expo" (28 1/ 8")is a good example of the maker and shares many features with the 2nd "Sotheby's 1988" (27 31/32"). The "Paris expo" differs from the "Sothebys 1988" primarily in it's edgework (which is heavier and accordingly results in a slightly bigger cello) and the soundholes...two characteristics that vary as well in the violins. The third, "Sotheby's 1996 was sold by Sotheby's merely as "attributed" to Deconet and has a Hill certificate from 1954. This is big (29 11/16") and I would not rely on this cello! The 4th, "Sotheby's 1998" is very unusual and fine and also large at 29". I agree that it shares many characteristics with Montagnana and would add that it shares similarities also with Busan. For me, this last cello would need closer examination to determine if it has an original label (I think it does not from my memory of examining it). I'd also add that the head is not original. I would suggest putting that cello aside for now. I would add two more small cellos to the mix: One is the ex Krasner 1749 cello with original label that is a real twin to the "Sotheby's 1988". It measures 27 31/32" . The other is the 176? Deconet "Barton Frank" at 27 15/16" sold by Rembert Wurlitzer that also perfectly conforms to the "Krasner" and "Sotheby's 1988". Finally, I would add the cello sold at Bonhams in Nov 2000. This instrument is built on a larger form (29 1/8") and therefore has a different outline. Nevertheless, the workmanship characteristics are unmistakably the same as the other 4.
  18. Stephen, I hate to disappoint you, but the aforementioned are both dealers. I guess you cant trust them either!
  19. Dear Rick, I am sorry if I was not more precise in my earlier posts. To be more exact, here is a list of Venetian makers from Kaiser through Cerin with their dates and total known violin family instrument production. To be clear to Maestronet readers, I do not claim to be a scholar of the Venetian archives, but I have been assisting two very capable scholars for more than 10 years. Although I have had my nose in documents from two Venetian archives on 5 or 6 intense week long study trips, I served as an assistant only. However, I have spent a great deal of time as a "consumer" of the information and have helped analyze the facts. Most of my efforts have been focused on the instruments, so long ago I made a commitment to see and study as many examples as possible. I have also studied photographs from numerous sources and have compiled as complete a catalogue of each maker as possible. I continue to add instruments to this archive, so there are certainly more instruments existing than I know of. As part of this project, I have sorted each maker and put them in date order, so that I can be more confident that I more fully understand their progression. Needless to say, this list contains only the instruments I believe to be authentic. Mr. Pio posed an important question: what should we think the activities were of all those makers who appear in the archive who left no instruments with labels? Of course, this is a question one could ask from each violin making city in Europe but in Venice, I would propose the following answers: 1. We know of two separate groups of instruments (violin family instruments made by the same maker judging from models and workmanship characteristics) without accurate attribution that seem to have been made in the Veneto region in the early 18th century. These instruments either are unlabeled or have been falsely labeled and attributed to other makers. In each case, there is more than a dozen instruments we know of so far from each maker with more remaining to be discovered. I would suspect that two of the obscure lauters were responsible for these two groups of instruments. 2. We know that there was a lot of instrument repair activity in Venice. Obviously, some of the unknown lauters were engaged in that activity. (see the massive Pieta account books contained in the Archivio di Stato. Most of the Pieta repairs were carried out by the Montagnana shop including when it was operated by Giorgio Serafin) 3. Of course, there were many times more fretted instruments made in Venice than violin family instruments. Because of the attrition rate of these instruments, many of their makers have been "lost". Based on my study of the instruments of Deconet and others, I do not believe that these unknown makers were responsible for a portion of their output. However, it is of course possible that some of the Venetian makers employed assistants. Again, these are only the examples I managed to catalogue, so there are certainly more. M. Kaiser d. after 1692- 4 incl 2 celli M. Goffriller 1659-1742- 139 incl 43 celli and 8 viola F. Gofriller 1671 to Udine c.1714- 33 incl 7 celli and 2 violas F. Gobetti 1675-1723- 27 C. Tononi 1675-1730 fled to Venice in 1719- 58 with 8 celli and 5 violas. (incl Bologna production) D. Montagnana 1686-1750- 82 incl 34 celli P. Guarneri 1695- 1762 arrived Venice 1717- 63 incl 10 celli and 1 viola S. Serafin 1699-1776 arrived Venice 1719- 73 incl 6 celli M. Deconet c.1712-1799 to Venice c. 1730- 50 incl 6 celli and 8 violas D. Busan c.1718-1783 to Venice by 1747- 22 including 6 celli and 7 violas G. Serafin 1726-1775- 19 incl 1 cello A. Bellosio 1743-1793 to Venice 1763- 28 incl 3 celli and 9 violas M. Cerin 1774-1810 1774-1810- 7 incl 2 violas
  20. Flyboy, There are many examples other than Gobetti. Another is the Ceruti family who were consistently referred to in documents as musicians. While it is true that Deconet traveled a fair bit, he also lived to the age of 88 which yields a long working life even if he started as late as age 33. The known output of 40 plus instruments seems perfectly reasonable even if he had a dual career. We do not know who sold Deconets violins just as we do not know who sold most of the instruments made in that city for 100 years. One could consider they were sold by one of the guild members with a storefront as was customary or outside of Pio's imagined police state within the musical circles Deconet circulated in whilst travelling.
  21. >>As I already told, there are quite 25/30 violin makers contemporary of Deconet whose work is totally unknown: how to explain the absence on labels related to them while we a have a proliferation of labelled Deconet instruments (made also in the period in which it is certified he was outside of Venice) is a mistery that Reuning should explain to me. If a label is a proof of the existence of a maker, then what do to with all the makers of which we have no labels comproving their activity?>> This is a very good question that has no easy answer, but the leap of logic to suggest this as a reason to conclude that Deconet (or any other maker who labeled a violin) as not being responsible for his work is too convoluted for me to understand. Thank you for the following summary of your reasons you concluded Deconet was not a maker of instruments. As a final synopsis of my dissagreement with that particular conclusion, I will provide my point of view for each: >>On this basis I was/am obliged to conclude what previously said: a) Deconet was a vagrant violin player and singer for all his life, very often living outside of Venice (vagrant player) thus excluding the possibility of a constant activity as violin maker (if any).>> I disagree with the conclusion that he was primarily a violin player all his life just as I would disagree if you tried to claim that Gobetti was a calagher his whole life. >> Deconet arrived in Venice when was an adult, consequently nobody would have taken him as workshop apprentice, teaching him the art of violin making according the Venetian style.>> I do not believe it is necessary for a maker to serve a formal apprenticeship in order to be a violin maker. I believe he began as an amateur (as indicated by his first efforts) >>c) Pietro Guarneri did not have apprentices or pupils in his workshop, as it is evidenced by the several registrations of the “Marzeri” guild and his tax records. Deconet was not an his apprentice.>> see previous answer >>d) Deconet did not have an his workshop, he was not registered to the guild, he did not pay taxes as violin maker and consequently he was not in the position of selling instruments (made by him or others) in Venice.>> like many other makers in Venice (see previous post) >>e) Deconet (supposing for a moment he was a maker) was not in the position to compete with large and well organized Venetian workshops like that one of Giorgio Serafin. Consequently Deconet was not “ the most prolific Venetian maker after about 1750” as stated by Charles Beare in Grove dictionary.>> Deconet was the most prolific maker as judged by the number of instruments firmly attributed to his hand. >>f) It was impossible to make instruments secretly for a so long time (even for a short time) without to be discovered and punished by the Venetian authority. Control was strict and made not only by the authority and/or the Guild officers but mainly from the “regular” taxed violin makers that would not have accepted a competitor selling instruments “in black”.>> again, see previous post. >>g) All Deconet family members were players and not makers.>> that is a conclusion I would disagree with (pertaining to Michele)
  22. >>1) Reuning in one his previous tread was saying: “ Pio certainly has enough familiarity with these archives to realize that the guild applied mainly to merchants rather than craftspeople and that the guild was lax in enforcing it's rules.” My replay was that he was wrong as in Venice did not exist merchants that were not violin/instrument makers also. I see now he is completely changing his claim, asking me if there were in Venice violin makers not registered to the Guild. My answer is: surely yes. To these violin makers was NOT allowed in any case to sell directly their instruments. They had to pass through a registered “bottega di liuter”. I cite the case of Santo Serafin (who, after he quitted the Guild, continued selling his instruments through the workshop of his nephew George Serafin ), Domenico Busan (selling through Ongaro) and Gobetti (selling through Matteo Sellas).>> Thank you Sig. Pio, you just answered the precise question I asked you. Yes, I agree that there were numerous makers in Venice other than Deconet who were not part of the guild. This is one of the main contradictions that I point out in your chapter about Deconet. Of course Deconet, like a number of other Venetian makers, was free to make and label his violins even though he was not a member of the guild.
  23. Mr. Pio, I notice that your citations in post # 99 only refers to 17th C makers (Kaiser) or early, obscure makers (Comel). Can you provide examples of strict guild rules enforcement during the active period of Venetian violin making involving well recognized makers such as Tononi, Gobetti, Montagnana, either Serafin, F Gofriller, Bellosio, Deconet, Busan, Cerin, Guarneri?
  24. >>“ Pio certainly has enough familiarity with these archives to realize that the guild applied mainly to merchants rather than craftspeople and that the guild was lax in enforcing it's rules.[/i] (Reuning comment)” This is totally wrong. In Venice did not exist merchants that were not violin/instrument makers also. If you are thinking to Matteo Sellas, he was a liuter too as well as a merchant.>> But is the opposite true? I understand your assertion that merchants must be makers, but must all makers be guild members? Do you mean to say that there were no other known Venetian violin makers who did not belong to the guild. Really? >>“ as Pio can cite these few examples of the guild enforcing a rule could he point out many more examples when the opposite was true. (Reuning comment)” Please cite them because I don’t know them.>> I will do this for you. >>“ The second factor you (Pio) cite is that he (Deconet) was referred to in documents as a "sonador" rather than "lauter". I would first point out that most of the sources after 1743 that you cite in your earlier post do not list any profession for Deconet at all. (Reuning comment)”>> Many of those citations mentioned in your post #39 state no profession, correct? Another question you could please answer: can you think of any other known Venetian instrument makers from this period who consistently were referred to in documents as anything other than "lauter"?
  25. I should add two more categories: arching. Some violins are deeply channeled with rather peaked arching and some have a very high arch. Other violins have quite a good medium-flat arch with moderate channelling. These sound often extremely well. varnish. I have seen many examples with varnish as good as a Montagnana or Peter Guarneri.
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