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Stradivari's golden ground varnish


Nicolaus
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May I please know if anyone knows the makeup of the bright golden coating layer that remains on classical Stradivari violins after the red varnish wears off, but the first coating remains? On many classical Stradivari violins, this undercoating is not golden, but pale yellow or clear; but, I am searching for the makeup of the bright gold color coating exhibited on many (not all), classical Stradivari violins that remains after the red varnish wears off. This under-coating exibits an intense whitish glow when exposed to ultra violet light. Thank you, Nicolaus

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How innocently you ask this question which has such a complicated, varied and controversial answer. :)

From what I've seen and heard, 'bright golden' is not something you generally see in person, are you basing that description on photos?

As I understand it, the only material which has been claimed to have been found just at the wood surface is linseed oil. But this is widely said not to give the right look when tried by modern makers.

Check out the Aladfi thread for discussion of these findings and some context for them, i.e. hints about what else would or would not have been detected if it was there, etc.

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How innocently you ask this question which has such a complicated, varied and controversial answer. :)

From what I've seen and heard, 'bright golden' is not something you generally see in person, are you basing that description on photos?

As I understand it, the only material which has been claimed to have been found just at the wood surface is linseed oil. But this is widely said not to give the right look when tried by modern makers.

Check out the Aladfi thread for discussion of these findings and some context for them, i.e. hints about what else would or would not have been detected if it was there, etc.

I am basing this information on photographs. However, it may take looking at the violin at an angle, under strong fluorescent lighting or under sunlight. I have found that even the wood is strong yellow when looking at it at an angle; the wood appears this color when looking at it at a steep angle, but it just appears tan when looking at the wood as it faces you. The varnish, at a moderate angle and under strong lighting exhibits vivid gold glow. Two other Stradivari instruments in this same photograph do not exhibit this gold color but appear to have a clear or very pale yellow, clear undercoating. The photographs are on the Musee de Musique in Paris website exhibited on the site about Stradivari, namely, the photo of the five violins all together. If you have difficulty recieving an up close picture of this photo, it took me several tries downloading it with various avenues, but I think that window's picture viewer works. The other picture, the picture of the Tua violin, shows this violin at a steep angle, from the right side of the tailpiece, which displays the gold color of the wood at an angle, whereas when the violin is facing you, as in the picture of the five violins, the Tua's wood right of the tailpiece is tan, not golden, but the ground coating on all pictures of the Tua and the Sarasate violins are strong gold in color. Thank you for your reply, Nicolaus

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Not info, opinion. Purple alizarin? I wonder why. whoever wrote this thread is questionable in the extream. A self-promoting amature. Hope it is not one of our guys here. If it is, well, so be it.

Is that your opinion? Or it it an "informed" statement?

Is your "info" opinion, or irrefutable fact?

Do you have proof that "Nicolaus" is a self-promoting amature, or is that your opinion?

And just what does "self-promoting amature" mean?

And who the hell do you think you are?

Just curious. :)

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Don't ever believe color photos. They don't necessarily look like the real violins, especially with regard to color.

The Del Gésù (Biddulph) book is terrible for this point (excelent for all the other points!)

The violins are much more Yellow than reality and the curl are killed by the light.

We´ll have a full génération of Del Gésù copy completly yellow!

The Beare book of the 87 exibition is more faithfull.

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Is that your opinion? Or it it an "informed" statement?

Is your "info" opinion, or irrefutable fact?

Do you have proof that "Nicolaus" is a self-promoting amature, or is that your opinion?

And just what does "self-promoting amature" mean?

And who the hell do you think you are?

Just curious. :)

Arglebargle,i believe John is refering to the links posted,not to Nicolaus :)

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Christian Bayon wrote:

"The Del Gésù (Biddulph) book is terrible for this point (excelent for all the other points!)

The violins are much more Yellow than reality and the curl are killed by the light.

We´ll have a full génération of Del Gésù copy completly yellow!

The Beare book of the 87 exibition is more faithfull."

Hummm.... I think the photos on this book (Biddulph) are very very good and "realistic" in terms of colour, what we see there in the book is what we would see with we had the instruments in our hands (from the instruments pictured in the book I had the Ole Bull in my hands when it belonged to Uto Ughi).

In Most of the cases violin photos will have much, much more colour than what we really see in the instruments when seen "in person", these photos are not realistic.

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Hummm.... I think the photos on this book (Biddulph) are very very good and "realistic" in terms of colour, what we see there in the book is what we would see with we had the instruments in our hands (from the instruments pictured in the book I had the Ole Bull in my hands when it belonged to Uto Ughi).

I know a lot of this instruments and I don´t agree.

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The Del Gésù (Biddulph) book is terrible for this point (excelent for all the other points!)

The violins are much more Yellow than reality and the curl are killed by the light.

We´ll have a full génération of Del Gésù copy completly yellow!

The Beare book of the 87 exibition is more faithfull.

Hi Christian,

Thank you for the compliment on the 1987 catalog.

Stewart Pollens, in the Biddulph book, used a lighting sytem that tends to neutralize the flame pattern. In doing the photographs for the 1987 catalog we made a point of not using diametrically opposed lighting especially when photographing the maple.

Lighting conditions, the quality and intensity of your source, yellowish tungsten lighting, greenish fluorescent or bluish daylight all make a difference in the final photograph. The type of film you are using makes a difference too. Even then, when you think you've got everything right and it looks OK on your color corrected monitor you have to print the image on paper using only four colors. Blue, red, yellow and black and on the same sheet you are printing several different instruments, each with different colors!!! Books are usually printed on large sheets, 16 pages at a shot. When you are making the final corrections that come out of the printing press (eight pages on one side of the sheet and eight on the opposite side) you realise that to correct one you must correct them all and this complicates matters even further. Our aim with the 1987 catalog was to show the variety of coloration in Stradivari varnish and to remain as faithful as possible to the basic colors. Red, red-orange, red-brown, golden yellow, yellow-brown, orange, orange-brown etc. To get any closer than that, each color image would have to have been printed separately putting the production costs through the roof!!!

Bruce

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Is that your opinion? Or it it an "informed" statement?

Is your "info" opinion, or irrefutable fact?

Do you have proof that "Nicolaus" is a self-promoting amature, or is that your opinion?

And just what does "self-promoting amature" mean?

And who the hell do you think you are?

Just curious. :)

I meant the links you posted as Fiddlemaker says. I promote my ideas but I don't charge for them. The whole point of madder or alizarin are that they are mordant dyes.

Something perhaps interesting: There is a lot more to do with a mordant dye than make a pure lake. THOSE people will miss a lot if they just think of making lake pigments.

I actually one who has tried it and done it.

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I meant the links you posted as Fiddlemaker says. I promote my ideas but I don't charge for them. The whole point of madder or alizarin are that they are mordant dyes.

Something perhaps interesting: There is a lot more to do with a mordant dye than make a pure lake. THOSE people will miss a lot if they just think of making lake pigments.

I actually one who has tried it and done it.

John,

Both those links are from well respected people and many trust and use their products. I have not used the Magister products but I've not read any complaints. I have used Joe's varnish and it was very nice.

I'll agree that it's more satisfying (to me) to cook and to have a stock of chemicals but not all have the space or similar inclination.

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John,

Both those links are from well respected people and many trust and use their products. I have not used the Magister products but I've not read any complaints. I have used Joe's varnish and it was very nice.

I'll agree that it's more satisfying (to me) to cook and to have a stock of chemicals but not all have the space or similar inclination.

I will erase my posting. I still think that a lot has been overlooked by just using premade things.

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I will erase my posting. I still think that a lot has been overlooked by just using premade things.

John I just thought that the two sites would be a good place to start, and not the final word.

So I do agree that you are right in saying that buying everything leaves one on the short, so to speak, with respect to the learning curve.

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May I please know if anyone knows the makeup of the bright golden coating layer that remains on classical Stradivari violins after the red varnish wears off, but the first coating remains? On many classical Stradivari violins, this undercoating is not golden, but pale yellow or clear; but, I am searching for the makeup of the bright gold color coating exhibited on many (not all), classical Stradivari violins that remains after the red varnish wears off. This under-coating exibits an intense whitish glow when exposed to ultra violet light. Thank you, Nicolaus

Nicolaus,

Lately I have a focus on the Stradivari instruments of the very late 1690's to the 1715 ish period.

One of the things that I see in this varnish is a layered approach. The ground in the wood is highly reflective...but in rather than on the wood. The initial on-the-wood varnish layer seems pale or faintly gold in color. The top varnish is highly colored.

The gold appearance of the combination of wood + ground + undervarnish when photographed has a more pronounced gold color than one would see in real life in good light.

However there is a good deal of color which comes from the aging process of the wood under the varnish. The reaction of the wood with both visible and ultra-violet light creates a cellular decomposition which has a distinct gold color.

The intensity of the golden background showing through the color varnish top coat is one of the most interesting tools in varnishing, but there is no distinct formula to create it and as you see from the response to your questions also one of the most debated issues in violin varnishing.

Joe

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Nicolaus,

Lately I have a focus on the Stradivari instruments of the very late 1690's to the 1715 ish period.

One of the things that I see in this varnish is a layered approach. The ground in the wood is highly reflective...but in rather than on the wood. The initial on-the-wood varnish layer seems pale or faintly gold in color. The top varnish is highly colored.

The gold appearance of the combination of wood + ground + undervarnish when photographed has a more pronounced gold color than one would see in real life in good light.

However there is a good deal of color which comes from the aging process of the wood under the varnish. The reaction of the wood with both visible and ultra-violet light creates a cellular decomposition which has a distinct gold color.

The intensity of the golden background showing through the color varnish top coat is one of the most interesting tools in varnishing, but there is no distinct formula to create it and as you see from the response to your questions also one of the most debated issues in violin varnishing.

Joe

Thank you for this definite sound hypothesis. I understand clearer now that varnish, when aged, especially in strong sunlight, definately transforms into closely another product, with pronounced and differentiated valuable qualities, clearly represented by ancient musical instruments. I had thought that this may be, but I don't have experience to know for sure. I will concentrate on the aging of the varnish, and of course, of the other important factors likewise.

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Joerobson wrote that:

However there is a good deal of color which comes from the aging process of the wood under the varnish. The reaction of the wood with both visible and ultra-violet light creates a cellular decomposition which has a distinct gold color.

Joe, sometimes the wood appears to be coloured (due to oxidation or reaction to light) but in other cases, as with the Messiah, Del Gesu`s Alard - and perhaps the Chardon Pochette - the wood colour under the varnish appears to be quite "normal", that is, not darkened, at least to my eyes.

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