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Figureheads on master violins?


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Several Stainers have lion heads. Somewhere I recall reading a bit where he got the heads from another carver. Many of the other better Tyrolean and South German violins have similar lion heads. Of course by the 19th century, with trade instruments, especially saxon ones, the lion heads degenerated to the point where they look like blobs, and many people automatically associate lion head violins with junk. There's a decent lion head Kloz on Tarisio right now.

I've seen various other french, bohemian, and other 18th century violins with carved womans heads etc., similar to those on gambas, but I dont recall any real big name makers.

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Did any of the classic Cremona (or other) makers carve animal or human figureheads instead of standard scrolls on their necks? And if so, is there somewhere on the web to view them? Thanks!

There is also this one: carved head. Roger and Max Millant in their book on J.B. Vuillaume affirm that these came out of the Vuillaume shop and, if I recall correctly, were mostly made by Honoré Derazey. I've seen several others over the years.


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I'll bet resting ones cheek against that harp encouraged practice. :rolleyes:

Heres a beauty on a citern in the Musee de Musique in Paris. It was originally attributed to Strad I think but the carving is probably by Gerallomo de Virgis, or so I have been told.

The back side carving is so outragious that they've put it against the wall, probably so as not to offend the clergy.

I may have that harp playing thing backwards but then there is a nice place to rest your hands between notes.


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