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Corner shape


Don Noon

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Personal taste... I do not like the look of the squared-off, Messiah look. Seems I remember something about "that's the way they all looked when they were new, then the corners got rounded off with wear." I looked through the "Iconography of Stradivarius" looking for another square corner. Don't seem to find any. To me, I would imagine the maple back would often retain the original corner shape, so I mostly looked at those. To my eye, everything EXCEPT for the Messiah seems to show a consistent shape of rounded outer edges... hard to believe they all wore the same.

So is everybody today just copying the anomaly of the Messiah? If so, STOP THAT!! :)

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I think there are more well preserved Cremonese instruments with square corners. They get rounded with wear, so you will find them only in instruments that are in very good condition. I think that the corners on the viola Medicea in Florence are square too.

I think Sacconi mentions that Stradivari made his corners square.

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This subject has been a long fascination for me. In all my areas of experience, objects that gain charm with age seem to start off with a certain boldness of execution and aggressive color in the finish. For example, it was quite a shock to see the raw colors originally used in New England colonial-era homes.

So I find that projecting an object into the future requires the same sort of "edge" that a solo violinist or a painter would use in a large hall, providing that the edge arises from a solid foundation of good proportions, good materials, etc. Anemic stuff doesn't read at a distance.

Don't let me get started on the fad for quarter-round routers:-)

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This subject has been a long fascination for me. In all my areas of experience, objects that gain charm with age seem to start off with a certain boldness of execution and aggressive color in the finish. For example, it was quite a shock to see the raw colors originally used in New England colonial-era homes.

So true. Think of the scandal that ensues every time a museum cleans a painting, and patrons discover that the painter didn't intend to paint a dirt-covered antique. With violins, one can often tell when an antique-maker didn't start with a real new corner first---the resulting corner doesn't have any internal consistency. I first realized this watching a pretty famous maker of antiques struggling to get the purfling line right, in the corner of one of his violins which started out with no defined corner, something he'd made by trying to copy the curves of the original. If you have a corner when you do the purfling, the purfling ends up in the right place, automatically, and the subsequent wear looks completely normal. After watching him, I realized why his purfling never looked like it "belonged" and his corners didn't look quite like real corners.

Don, if you start with a full corner and then wear it naturally, you'll see why all worn corners end up looking the way they do. You might also notice that they each all wear slightly differently, mostly in the same way for each one.

That said, I, also, find a new, square corner too abrupt, and that's one reason I always "age" my violins about 100 years--just to take the edginess off without making a real antique. You'll find a lot of contemporary and recent makers who make the flat on the end just very slightly rounded, even if they make everything else sharp.

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The most difficult thing is to make square corners that still has an elegant feel about them. I agree that The Messiah doesn't quite cut it. But you must remember that Antonio was 72 years old in 1716, and possibly an apprentice made it anyway.

There's a square template of a cello corner in the Stradivari museum that shows how the corner would have looked like when new.

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OK, I looked at some of the Strad images on Tarisio, and yep, there's some square corners. The little photos in the Iconography didn't have as much detail, and in completeness they likely had a lot of worn ones. I still like the swoopier-looking corners, though... in the same way a Ferrari looks a lot better to me than a Cadillac CTS.

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Seems most Golden Period Stradivari corners have the harder corner edges compared

to his earlier work.

Take The 1693 Harrison for example:

post-6775-1243529336_thumb.jpg

Although The Harrison corners are "square", Antonio softened them nicely by rounding.

I don't think this corner rounding is from normal wear.

Jim

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Seems most Golden Period Stradivari corners have the harder corner edges compared

to his earlier work.

Take The 1693 Harrison for example:

post-6775-1243529336_thumb.jpg

Although The Harrison corners are "square", Antonio softened them nicely by rounding.

I don't think this corner rounding is from normal wear.

Jim

...............................

Hi Jim

Going by what I know of wear at that corner and the form of other Strads of the period 'd say that that's wear you have there ....but...those 1690's corners do end to be a bit more Amati like and elegant than what came later

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Seems most Golden Period Stradivari corners have the harder corner edges compared

to his earlier work.

Take The 1693 Harrison for example:

post-6775-1243529336_thumb.jpg

Although The Harrison corners are "square", Antonio softened them nicely by rounding.

I don't think this corner rounding is from normal wear.

Jim

Excuse my ignorance here if this has been written about or I have it all wrong. The usual way I've seen to do a Strad beesting is to mark it out then the rest is done by eye. Looking at this corner it looks to me like the corner has initially been made wider with a tighter curve on the lower bout side then after the purfling goes in the extra width is taken off the lower part of the corner. The purfling in the upper bout looks like it follows the outline perfectly. Any thoughts on that?

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Manny makers in Italy in the last century were brave enough to go a little away from the most "scholastic" look include style of corners.

Giuseppe Ornati was for me the best example to show "Personality" You see his own body in his later work. "Full and round"

I still like the swoopier-looking corners, though... in the same way a Ferrari looks a lot better to me than a Cadillac CTS.

And Mercedes beat Ferrari easily in all points of Quality. But never reach "talento Italiano"

With other word "Charisma".

Violin by Giuseppe Ornati

post-1262-1243540951_thumb.jpg

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Personal taste... I do not like the look of the squared-off, Messiah look. Seems I remember something about "that's the way they all looked when they were new, then the corners got rounded off with wear." I looked through the "Iconography of Stradivarius" looking for another square corner. Don't seem to find any. To me, I would imagine the maple back would often retain the original corner shape, so I mostly looked at those. To my eye, everything EXCEPT for the Messiah seems to show a consistent shape of rounded outer edges... hard to believe they all wore the same.

So is everybody today just copying the anomaly of the Messiah? If so, STOP THAT!! :)

Don, the Messiah was hanging on his shop wall when he died........ Was it his masterpiece and did he want to presearve it? No, does not sound like the behavior of an artist. My opinion:

a.) Gawd, was it orange!

b.) Nobody would buy such a garish violin, it wasn't shaded or antiqued even a little bit.

c.) Other instruments people liked did not have the varnish worn of in 50 years, it was an hour or two before a final polish.

I know there will be howels of disagrement.

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Perhaps I'm not looking at them correctly, but the one you illustrate looks varnishless and a bit dirty to me - as though it's been worn.

Sure, the varnish is worn, though it appears Stradivari intentionally rounded the corners with a knife

[unlike The Messiah].

Jim

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