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skiingfiddler

A del Gesu Cello.

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Bruce and Martina,

Thank you for your very informative posts.

Does anybody know where the instrument is now? Does Eduard Wulfson still own it as stated in Cozio.com, and is Natalia Gutman still playing it?

Natalia is now playing a Goffriller that she received on loan after the Guarneri was returned to the owner. I photographed the cello with Natalia in March of 2004 and by September of 2008, the time of the Exhibition in Cremona, she was no longer playing on it. The Guarneri was consigned to the Exhibition by Machold and withdrawn at the end by one of the two new owners and not by Machold. I saw Natalia with the Goffriller for the first time when she came to the shop in February of 2009.

Bruce

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Anyone able to put up some better pics than these?

(perhaps from the 2011 Strad calendar....?)

Just for everyone's information, the color on the side view is closer to correct. The front and back views on Omobono's post are way overexposed. It's a fairly darkish red-brown in normal lighting.

Bruce

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On that "del Jesu" cello, I find it interesting that 5-10 years ago Bein & Fushi had one for sale [he said, advisedly!] Prior to that time, no one thought one existed, which means that this one was only "authenticated" [he said again, even MORE advisedly!!!] in the past decade, and then by the selling agent.

Note I'm not saying anyone lied/exagerated/speculated on the instrument's origin, except that we all know the $$$ involved, and the sometimes questionable dealings of some of the establishments that deal in such things.

As a cautionary note, remember that for many years Casals was thought to play a Bergonzi, despite the fact not a single cello had, to that point, ever been authenticated as such. Turns out it was a Gofriller (at least as far as we know. LOL!)

In the first paragraph above isn't that stretching it a bit when Arthur Hill noted, already in 1915, the comments of his brother Alfred? (see the annotations on Cozio.com about the instrument). Our knowledge of 'del Gesù' has certainly increased in the interim and what may not have been readily received by the public at that time or that the Hills felt to be too speculative and premature is now easier to comprehend. Expertise is in continual flux because of new information and further historical archive research which can obviously confirm or negate any given hypothesis of the past. Robert Bein didn't just pull a rabbit out of a hat and, like the case of Matteo Goffriller cellos being confused at one time for Carlo Bergonzi, the hour finally came to set the record straight.

Bruce

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In the first paragraph above isn't that stretching it a bit when Arthur Hill noted, already in 1915, the comments of his brother Alfred? (see the annotations on Cozio.com about the instrument). Our knowledge of 'del Gesù' has certainly increased in the interim and what may not have been readily received by the public at that time or that the Hills felt to be too speculative and premature is now easier to comprehend. Expertise is in continual flux because of new information and further historical archive research which can obviously confirm or negate any given hypothesis of the past. Robert Bein didn't just pull a rabbit out of a hat and, like the case of Matteo Goffriller cellos being confused at one time for Carlo Bergonzi, the hour finally came to set the record straight.

Bruce

Bruce,

Your last sentence is a generous interpretation. Like you, I doubt anyone pulled a rabbit out of a hat, but then I find it curious that all of a sudden a del Jesu cello shows up for sale there. I'd love to know how many "experts" looked at it and said, "Aha, the del Jesu cello we've all been waiting for!"

Granted, expertise is always in flux, and what we believed yesterday may today be proven untrue. I wonder if this is the theory behind the doubting Thomases I've read about who question the origin of the famous violin in the Ashmolean? OTOH, perhaps they're just enjoying seeing their names in print for purposes of self-aggrandizement.

My point (and I do have one...) is that we should look at all this stuff with what I consider a properly jaundiced eye. A gentleman who knew a whole lot more about this subject than I (sadly, just recently deceased...) told me when Bein & Fushi recently had that cello for sale it's attribution was thought quite possibly to be a case of wishes being portrayed as facts, and the difference in price between a real del Jesu and another fine/great instrument can easily be a million dollars, most especially in the case of a cello. I'd be a lot more impressed if it had papers from Hill, Wurlitzer, Moennig, etc.

In any event, thank you for bringing the issue up, and I'll try to find the time to look up the Cozio article you mentioned. I'm always happy to learn something new on a topic I love.

EDIT: I just did a quick glance at the Cozio article. Somehow everything seems to be linked to "The Stradivari Society".

Invented, developed, overseen and "creatively financed" by (wait for it...!) Robert Bein & Geoffrey Fushi. I'm pretty sure this is what lawyers are wont to call "conflict of interest"!

Larry

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I find it curious that all of a sudden a del Jesu cello shows up for sale there. I'd love to know how many "experts" looked at it and said, "Aha, the del Jesu cello we've all been waiting for!"

One of those experts who believes it is entirely a del Gesu is Roger Hargrave, as cited in the Cozio.com comments. He's certainly is not one known to kowtow to the violin trade. If he thinks it's a del Gesu and is willing to go on record stating so, that's pretty strong assurance that it is one.

Being skeptical about opinions given in the violin world is a good idea. But totally disregarding the opinion of someone like Roger Hargrave, who has an established record of independence and expertise, is a bit short sighted.

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HI

more pictures of the Messeas, again from the Cremona exhibition catalogue "Cremona 1730-1750", only photos of photos, sorry about the quality...

Manfio, the catalogue includes measurements, the ribs are 12,1 wide.

cheers

Martina

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post-24034-0-69276100-1310103400_thumb.jpg

post-24034-0-40366100-1310103627_thumb.jpg

post-24034-0-35968900-1310103639_thumb.jpg

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HI

more pictures of the Messeas, again from the Cremona exhibition catalogue "Cremona 1730-1750", only photos of photos, sorry about the quality...

cheers

Martina

Thanks for posting these pictures! Forgive my ignorance as I'm not a cellist, but is the (fingerboard) nut skewed for a reason? Does it make it easier to finger fifths on a cello?

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Martina,

Outstanding photos and very revealing -- tools marks everywhere, as you've stated. It looks like an elegant, Brescian instrument, Brescian rough and ready in its general outline and execution, but still Cremonese elegant in some parts like the scroll, f-holes and corners. Maybe that cello shows better the influence of Brescian making on del Gesu than his violins do.

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more pictures of the Messeas, again from the Cremona exhibition catalogue "Cremona 1730-1750", only photos of photos, sorry about the quality...

If the bottom of the scroll at the back is as distorted as in the photo, it suggests a visual impairment that is causing some weird refraction.

Could even be in 1 eye only, which could then produce temporary processing conflicts as the brain tries to cope with 2 different images.

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Larry,

Your theories do not match the facts. You should actually read my catalogue description posted by Martina. Christopher Loring bought the cello from Wurlitzers as a del Gesu. When he decided to sell, all the important experts had a chance to see it and agreed with the Wurlitzer attribution.

But you don't need to entirely rely on experts opinions. In this case, there is archival evidence and an original label that together paint a pretty clear picture. (again, I suggest you read)

Christopher Reuning

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Larry,

Your theories do not match the facts. You should actually read my catalogue description posted by Martina. Christopher Loring bought the cello from Wurlitzers as a del Gesu. When he decided to sell, all the important experts had a chance to see it and agreed with the Wurlitzer attribution.

But you don't need to entirely rely on experts opinions. In this case, there is archival evidence and an original label that together paint a pretty clear picture. (again, I suggest you read)

Christopher Reuning

Thank you for that, Mr. Reuning. I met Ken Jacobs back when he worked at Wurlitzer, and an excellent memory being a perquisite for that work, I'm sure he would remember it. I'll post here if I learn anything of great interest from him.

Thanks again,

Larry

EDIT: Of course I meant to say "prerequisite"

I confused my "-ites"

Again...

Apologies!

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Since I can well remember, from the age of about 13, making bit and bobs for my father’s work, without ever doubting that the end product would be a 100% “Wilf”, I am a little uncomfortable about this subject. In posting #8 of a recent thread

http://www.maestronet.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=323730

there was a similar discussion 150 years removed, about Lemböck. My view is that the Lemböck instruments are “Lemböcks” although he probably didn’t even touch many during the making. It was however his shop, his responsibility, his label and with his name on the front door. A cello made in the Joseph filius Andrea Guarneri shop, labelled and sold as such by G. himself, is, if one is to be consistent, just that, i.e. a Joseph filius Andrea Guarneri, even if his lad helped making it. I realise that this point of view might put me slightly in conflict with Roger, but that has happened occasionally before without long term consequences.

Bit late on this one, but then I don't have the time to read everything on this site. However, I agree entirely with you assesment Jacob. This IS a Felius cello, nevertheless we can still see the hand of del Gesu and we can also comment on such accademic details. This is an important part of expertise as you have also pointed out on many occassions. The problem is that dealers often make hay with such information. But then I pointed this out back in the 1980's and got short shrift.

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Bit late on this one, but then I don't have the time to read everything on this site. However, I agree entirely with you assesment Jacob. This IS a Felius cello, nevertheless we can still see the hand of del Gesu and we can also comment on such accademic details. This is an important part of expertise as you have also pointed out on many occassions. The problem is that dealers often make hay with such information. But then I pointed this out back in the 1980's and got short shrift.

Great, I'm not in conflict with you then. The thick end is that someone like M. can diddle some bank out of about 5 times as much money on you're homework!

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Bit late on this one, but then I don't have the time to read everything on this site. However, I agree entirely with you assesment Jacob. This IS a Felius cello, nevertheless we can still see the hand of del Gesu and we can also comment on such accademic details. This is an important part of expertise as you have also pointed out on many occassions. The problem is that dealers often make hay with such information. But then I pointed this out back in the 1980's and got short shrift.

I get the feeling that, over time and among different people, the criterion for deciding that an instrument is "made by (some maker) X" changes. It seems that there are or have been, over time, at least 3 different notions of "made by X":

1. The hands of X, holding the tools in his hands, were the sole or at least the predominant hands that carved the instrument. This seems to be the notion among the general public, today. This is the most restrictive meaning of "made by X" and may not be realistic in terms of 17th and 18th century practices. If the 1731 cello is "made by del Gesu," I assume it's by virtue of this criterion.

2. The mind of X, looking over the shoulder of an apprentice or assistant while that apprentice or assistant did all the manual work, directed the hands of the apprentice or assistant. I get the feeling that Jacob would be willing to call such an instrument as made by X. Also some of the late Nicolo Amatis might fall into this category. If the 1731 cello is a filius Andrea, I assume it's by this criterion or the next one.

3. The shop of X is willing to accept an instrument as its own work because the instrument meets the standards and the general style of the shop of X. Perhaps the instrument is commissioned by X but made entirely outside the shop of X with no direct guidance (except from former training) from X. Nonetheless, in the end, X accepts it as his own and in all honesty a label from X goes into it. Again, my sense from reading the Hills is that this occurred in the Amati shop.

People seem to mean different things when they say "made by X." Which one is the most justified meaning is far from clear.

Corrections to my misconceptions are always welcome.

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Bit late on this one, but then I don't have the time to read everything on this site. However, I agree entirely with you assesment Jacob. This IS a Felius cello, nevertheless we can still see the hand of del Gesu and we can also comment on such accademic details. This is an important part of expertise as you have also pointed out on many occassions. The problem is that dealers often make hay with such information. But then I pointed this out back in the 1980's and got short shrift.

What goes around comes around...

Dealer fancy and real fact are as far apart as east from west.

Jmann

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I get the feeling that, over time and among different people, the criterion for deciding that an instrument is "made by (some maker) X" changes. It seems that there are or have been, over time, at least 3 different notions of "made by X":

1. The hands of X, holding the tools in his hands, were the sole or at least the predominant hands that carved the instrument. This seems to be the notion among the general public, today. This is the most restrictive meaning of "made by X" and may not be realistic in terms of 17th and 18th century practices. If the 1731 cello is "made by del Gesu," I assume it's by virtue of this criterion.

2. The mind of X, looking over the shoulder of an apprentice or assistant while that apprentice or assistant did all the manual work, directed the hands of the apprentice or assistant. I get the feeling that Jacob would be willing to call such an instrument as made by X. Also some of the late Nicolo Amatis might fall into this category. If the 1731 cello is a filius Andrea, I assume it's by this criterion or the next one.

3. The shop of X is willing to accept an instrument as its own work because the instrument meets the standards and the general style of the shop of X. Perhaps the instrument is commissioned by X but made entirely outside the shop of X with no direct guidance (except from former training) from X. Nonetheless, in the end, X accepts it as his own and in all honesty a label from X goes into it. Again, my sense from reading the Hills is that this occurred in the Amati shop.

People seem to mean different things when they say "made by X." Which one is the most justified meaning is far from clear.

Corrections to my misconceptions are always welcome.

Although I am no more in possession of the definitive truth than you are, or possibly less so, I (very slightly) disagree. I think, far more, that nothing much has changed over the centuries.

My accountant, who has a habit of surprising me with the odd nugget of wisdom, told me soon after I became self employed; “as soon as the “Meister” has more than two “Gesellen” (journeymen), he won’t work at the bench himself at all”. There is more than just a grain of truth there.

Violin making has normally been pursued in small workshops. The exceptional extremes are a single person working entirely on his own and a semi factory. This is by no means peculiar to violin making. Somebody like Michael-Angelo certainly didn’t belong to the lone struggler brigade, any more than did a Rodin. On a cheaper level, makers such as Mathias Thir made instruments that are easily distinguishable as “Thir”, although he is reported to have had as many as a dozen journeymen.

On a modern and “micro” level; if you had had me make you a new bridge at any time since I set up in 1987, It could have actually been carved by me personally, or by any of the more than a dozen people who have worked for me since and I wouldn’t even be able to tell you who carved it, if you came back now and asked. You would have a “Saunders” bridge though.

The Hill brothers were aware of this (after all, who made those “Hill” violins) and wrote in there Guarneri book that Del Gesu made “only violins” although they were well aware of this Cello and had noted (privately) that they could see the younger G’s hand in the work.

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Although I am no more in possession of the definitive truth than you are, or possibly less so, I (very slightly) disagree. I think, far more, that nothing much has changed over the centuries.

My accountant, who has a habit of surprising me with the odd nugget of wisdom, told me soon after I became self employed; “as soon as the “Meister” has more than two “Gesellen” (journeymen), he won’t work at the bench himself at all”. There is more than just a grain of truth there.

Violin making has normally been pursued in small workshops. The exceptional extremes are a single person working entirely on his own and a semi factory. This is by no means peculiar to violin making. Somebody like Michael-Angelo certainly didn’t belong to the lone struggler brigade, any more than did a Rodin. On a cheaper level, makers such as Mathias Thir made instruments that are easily distinguishable as “Thir”, although he is reported to have had as many as a dozen journeymen.

On a modern and “micro” level; if you had had me make you a new bridge at any time since I set up in 1987, It could have actually been carved by me personally, or by any of the more than a dozen people who have worked for me since and I wouldn’t even be able to tell you who carved it, if you came back now and asked. You would have a “Saunders” bridge though.

The Hill brothers were aware of this (after all, who made those “Hill” violins) and wrote in there Guarneri book that Del Gesu made “only violins” although they were well aware of this Cello and had noted (privately) that they could see the younger G’s hand in the work.

Jacob,

What I conclude from your and Roger's postings is that it's up to the shop and its owners at the time the instrument is made to decide what an instrument is and how it's to be labeled. Once the shop owner has made that decision, there's an obligation by the rest of us to honor it. It might be historically and intellectually interesting to know that a certain person not mentioned on the label had a hand, maybe the dominant or sole hand, in making the instrument. But in the end, at the point when the instrument was made, the people involved in its making agreed to a designation for that instrument, and posterity should honor that designation.

I'm ok with that. It's good to have a clear idea of how the system works.

Based on that criterion, we see that the Guarneris, themselves, decided that the 1731 cello was a filius Andrea cello and labeled it accordingly, regardless of the degree of del Gesu's involvement. In terms of what the cello is, we of the present day should honor that decision.

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Jacob,

What I conclude from your and Roger's postings is that it's up to the shop and its owners at the time the instrument is made to decide what an instrument is and how it's to be labeled. Once the shop owner has made that decision, there's an obligation by the rest of us to honor it. It might be historically and intellectually interesting to know that a certain person not mentioned on the label had a hand, maybe the dominant or sole hand, in making the instrument. But in the end, at the point when the instrument was made, the people involved in its making agreed to a designation for that instrument, and posterity should honor that designation.

I'm ok with that. It's good to have a clear idea of how the system works.

Based on that criterion, we see that the Guarneris, themselves, decided that the 1731 cello was a filius Andrea cello and labeled it accordingly, regardless of the degree of del Gesu's involvement. In terms of what the cello is, we of the present day should honor that decision.

Yes Steven, that is how I understand how things have been for hundreds of years. If I was employed by Roger at his place (heaven forbid) I would be making Hargrave violins, even if he admitted, or pointed out to you that I had participated.

One often comes across examples where this tradition is ignored, which I find irritating and inconsistent, although I havn't noticed anybody else getting irritated. Tarisio, for instance, have taken to listing Hill bows as "By Leeson (or other) for W: E: Hill...", because they made marks/numbers on the face plate. What they don't tell you is that this only means that Leeson made the stick (any Hill bow maker please correct me!), somebody else would have made/fitted the frog, another the hair and then Retford would probably have worked it over, if he hadn't been quite satisfied. A classic workshop team effort and not as if Leeson had made the bow at home and come around on his bike every week or two to deliver the finished articles. With Vuillaume bows people also try and seperate individual workmen, probably in vain too.

Andrew Rudall made a very good point, I thought, in posting #9 of this thread, which nobody has seen fit to answer yet. I would like to start by answering his question with a "Yes, in my opinion".

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Jacob,

What I conclude from your and Roger's postings is that it's up to the shop and its owners at the time the instrument is made to decide what an instrument is and how it's to be labeled. Once the shop owner has made that decision, there's an obligation by the rest of us to honor it.

No one is under any obligation. Sort it out as you will. There are plenty of bows which were once ascribed to a shop owner, which are now attributed to individual makers associated with that shop.

I do everything myself now, but there were times when Jeffery Holmes, Mark Norfleet, Jerry Pasewicz, David Orlin, Arthur Toman, or Todd Goldenberg had a hand in it.

The "experts" can sort all this out later, but I don't believe there is anything distinguishable between my lone work, and that in which others were involved. There's plenty which can be done without touching final surfaces. This was probably even more true in the distant past, when heat involved hauling firewood, clothes were sewn and mended by hand, and water needed to be hauled from a well. Maybe three or more people were required to support the efforts of a full-time maker, without leaving any signature on the work.

Who knows? They may claim that Todd cut the ff holes on a particular instrument of mine (never did), or that Orlin put in the purfling (never did).

When I'm dead, hopefully I will look upon the assertions with a sense of amusement. :)

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The "experts" can sort all this out later, but I don't believe there is anything distinguishable between my lone work, and that in which others were involved. There's plenty which can be done without touching final surfaces. This was probably even more true in the distant past, when heat involved hauling firewood, clothes were sewn and mended by hand, and water needed to be hauled from a well. Maybe three or more people were required to support the efforts of a full-time maker, without leaving any signature on the work.

David,

I don't think there's much of a concern about attribution or authenticity when helpers help without leaving any trace of their participation on the work. The problems of attribution and authenticity seem to arise in cases like the 1731 Guarneri cello in which the makers intended it to be a filius Andrea while modern research, in all honesty, points to del Gesu as the predominant, perhaps the sole, hand in its making.

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