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Giuseppe Sneider in Pavia

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From C. Stainer, A Dictionary of Violin Makers, 1896Sneider, Giuseppe. A maker in Pavia about 1700-25. A pupil of Nicola Amati. His violins are slightly arched, the sound-holes gracefully cut, the workmanship carefully finished ; the varnish is a rich yellow colour. Instru- ments made by Girolamo, son of Nicola Amati, have often been attributed to Sneider. Labels: "Joseph Sneider Paviae, alumnus Nicola Amati Cre- monae fecit , anno 1 703 , ' ' and ' ' Giuseppe Sneider in Pavia 1718, alumnus Nicola Amati Cremonae." 

Hart's The Violin, has him as Josefo

 

SNEIDER, Josefo, Pavia. Lancetti remarks that many of the Violins by Girolamo Amati, son of Niccolò, were attributed to this maker.

Joseph Sneider Papiæ

Alumnus Nicolai Amati Cremonae

fecit Anno 17—

I'd guess somebody thought it was a Girolamo Amati.  Hope they were right 

:)

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That is what I call apocryphic; the name is listed in 19th and early 20th century dictionaries, but without any documents and known genuine instruments. It seems to me, the name was created only to label some less reliable instruments. The spelling seems to be not italian, but french. If it means the german "Schneider" (Taylor), italian spelling should be something like "Snaidar", "Scenaider", "Scianaidar", but probably not like this.

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I would be more circumspect about this - strictly thinking about the claim that the label makes... 

 

There are a lot of German speaking instrument makers in Italy in the late seventeenth- and early eighteenth-centuries. Martin Kaiser, Matteo Goffriller, David Tecchler, Martin Ott, possibly  a branch of the Leidolf family in the guise of Landolfi, and appropriate to this, the Fussen trained lute maker Jacob Railich who has documented ties to the Amati shop, and his son Johannes Railich who worked in Padua as a maker of plucked instruments. In fact, when one explores into the realms of lute and guitar making, the number of good German names increases exponentially. In fact in the Renaissance it was the German lute makers in Bologna who were the most famous in Europe, and their reputation continued up to the early 18th century. Here for example is a quote from John Evelyn in 1645 which sums up the position perfectly: 

 

Memoirs Illustrative of the Life and Writings of John Evelyn, Esq. F.R.S. London 1819

 

Bologna, 1645 
This place has also been famous for lutes made by the old masters, Mollen, Hans Frey, and Nicholas Sconvelt, which were of extraordinary price; the workmen were chiefly  Germans.

 

 

And what of a claimed association with the Amati workshop? Well the only people that we absolutely know were 'apprentices' in the shop are those that happened to be dwelling in the shop on the day of a census return, many of them seem only to have been there for one census, and many of them like the Railich's come from backgrounds that indicate that they were already proficient, and even successful instrument makers in their own right.

 

Is it therefore possible to be a 'pupil of Amati', by coming along, steeped in your own tradition, doing a certain amount of work in Cremona over a period of weeks or months  - more a kind of "sotto la disciplina d'Amati' (as Bergonzi referenced his connection to Strad) than necessarily a long apprenticeship, and then moving on, and did in fact, many more makers make the pilgrimage to Cremona than our cynical more modern minds have given credence. Cappa, Alessandro Gagliano, Jacob Stainer, and who knows, even Antonio Stradivari might have spent some informal time imbibing the Amati influence for themselves. When push comes to shove though, these were makers entrenched in their own ideas, and able to work to a market that did not necessarily compete with the Cremonese, and their work is compromised as a result. 

 

So I wouldn't be too quick to dismiss the Sneider label, just as I took enormous interest in the Andrea Stanzer of Genoa which makes similar claims. I wrote about it for Tarisio here. http://tarisio.com/wp/2013/02/two-early-18th-century-genoese-violinmakers-andrea-stanzer-giuseppe-cavaleri-2/

 

Whether this is a Sneider or not is a completely different matter. I don't know. I have never seen or heard of another example outside of what the dictionaries have to say. Perhaps a couple of bidders had more confidence in it, or even feel it stands up to another attribution. But its certainly an Italian violin by a competent but minor maker of the period. The label isn't one to instantly discount as fake, at the very least its plausibly done, it might well be genuine. 

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Thank you, Ben :) .

 

While I've usually seen the assumption that makers of the period hoarded their secrets, etc. a lot of makers seem to have had ties to Amati. I wonder, could he have been running a "workshop" in more ways than one?  Maybe even charging for it?

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Does anyone else feel that the scratches on the back, particularily up near the button look deliberate ? The back just looks too artfully worn and one note to me, as though the wear happened all at once.

 

r.

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That is what I call apocryphic; the name is listed in 19th and early 20th century dictionaries, but without any documents and known genuine instruments. It seems to me, the name was created only to label some less reliable instruments. The spelling seems to be not italian, but french. If it means the german "Schneider" (Taylor), italian spelling should be something like "Snaidar", "Scenaider", "Scianaidar", but probably not like this.

It's most likely how he (mis)spelled it himself, particularly if he was Swiss or something.  Do a web search, and you'll find about 9,000,000 hits on Sneider, there's still a lot of them out there :)

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Does anyone else feel that the scratches on the back, particularily up near the button look deliberate ? The back just looks too artfully worn and one note to me, as though the wear happened all at once.

 

r.

The dendro fits  the attributed  age of the instrument. Don't think anyone has been at it considering 300 years of wear.

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Thank you, Ben :) .

 

While I've usually seen the assumption that makers of the period hoarded their secrets, etc. a lot of makers seem to have had ties to Amati. I wonder, could he have been running a "workshop" in more ways than one?  Maybe even charging for it?

 

It begs the question, what was the method of trade from one country to another that promoted and maintained the Cremonese market internationally, and throughout Italy? Networks like this would certainly work to an advantage. Perhaps, as possibly the case with Stainer when an archduke or a king made a commission to the Cremonese, he might send his best instrument maker with the order, who would hang around the workshop and pick up a few top tips... (whose that Polish chap who spent six months in Cremona around 1716?)

 

Something that gives that idea credibility is the case of the Medici instrument makers in Florence. The best one is Girolamo Zenti who was sent off in the 1660s as virtually an ambassador, and attended the courts of France, England and Sweden in the 1660s for extended periods. In fact the earliest bentside spinet is by Zenti, made in Florence in 1661 I think, but the design was adopted wholesale in England after he arrived in 1664. There are hundreds of English ones still surviving, but Florence is a footnote. His successor was Bartolomeo Cristofori who is recorded in the Amati shop. Frankly his violins are a bit rough, but with a good dose of inspiration from the Cremonese. His pianos, though important are not amazing works of art, but... as for his more inventive things... how's this from 1693 - on the scale of a decorated Strad, and enormously inventive? 

 

leipsig.jpg

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Does anyone else feel that the scratches on the back, particularily up near the button look deliberate ? The back just looks too artfully worn and one note to me, as though the wear happened all at once.

 

r.

 

I agree with Hendrik. You see this 'random' wear quite commonly on instruments that have been pretty untouched. It tends to go when people start polishing it to tidy it up. From the photos, I'm not suspicious, but they do raise a 'second look', because this kind of pattern is increasingly unusual. 

 

Take this comparison with the d'Egville as it looked in 1872 to see random looking wear patterns that are difficult to explain yet perfectly legitimate. (though it looks like this was dropped in soup to give it a shine!)

post-52750-0-86406700-1368718756_thumb.jpg

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Thanks for the informative replies! I had doubts about the name, because the Railich, Kaiser, Tecchler etc. are all well documented; Sconvelt is an interesting spelling for "Schönfeld" (Schönfelder was a family from Markneukirchen), and looks really "italianized". Schneider is a very common name like Smith or Miller, and the version Sneider is by Google mostly found in the US, but not in Italy. It reminds me to the "Fratelli Fiscer alla balla...." fom other Mirecourt violins, and the manner, to stamp the name under the button is typical french or german, but not italian. But the stamp could be added later.

The violin looks very nice, but I have doubts, if it is really 300 years old, even if the wood is from the 17th century.

Is it clear, that it isn't a flemish copy from the mid or late18th century?

And I can see more similarity to the Grancino pattern as to a "pure" Amati - possibily the winning bidder bought it as such.

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Blankface, 

 

The only doubt I have is if its a Flemish or English violin of the same period. In the way that it apes an Amati, there are a few makers that come to mind, some violins attributed to Pamphilon in particular, although elements like the extremely overworked edges put my mind to rest. These doubts are perhaps analagous to the caution involved in looking at Cappas which may be by Rombouts, or early Florentine work that is more likely Barrett or Cross. 

 

You have legitimate concerns about the stamp. These are rare in Italy, and Carlo Tononi is thought to be the first violin maker to use such a technique, followed by Sanctus and Giorgio Seraphin. In France I'm not sure, but name stamps probably come into being around 1720ish, but they appear slightly earlier in London with Barak Norman, from about 1694. Against that lute and guitar makers in Italy routinely stamped makers marks on their instruments, and the northern italian guitar tradition invariably involves engraving the name of the maker onto the pegbox, so there are precidents. But yes, I don't like that brand, it sits badly with me, but Mirecourt wouldn't cross my mind for a second.  

 

Have no worries about Sconvelt or Nicola Schönvelt, he was working in Bologna long before Markneukirchen came into being, and his lutes appear in Raymund Fugger's inventory of 1566 (He, or his father is identified as the lutenist in Gentile Bellini’s Procession in San Marco painted in 1496)Those German masters came into Italy in the early 1500s. Laux Maler, the greatest of them along with Sigismund, his brother were in Bologna by 1518. To which add, Ulrich Tieffenbrucker & dynasty (Venice) Marx Untervorden (Venice) Michael Hartung (Padua), Vendelin Venere (Padua), Wendelin Eberle (Padua), and that's the tip of the iceberg. 

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Ben,

you are talking about the edges of this violin; I am not sure, if I understood your intention. Do you think, the maker put very much work into carving them, or that they were altered later? Just the edges can be very typical for italian violins, and here they seem to be a little narrow at the table, at the back they look more italian-like.

It was never in my mind, too,  that this is a Mirecourt violin. Only the label (which looks like a 'ticket') and the stamp could be added by a french dealer - like it could be possible, that the existence of a maker Sneider was invented by french dealers to relabel old, italian-looking violins. Just the well documented existence of many german makers in Italy could be helpful, to make the existence of such a phantom believable.

The other question, that was in my mind, is, why such a high price (nearly twice the estimate) for an unknown and undocumented italian maker?

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I'm really impressed by the crispness of the edge on the back where it's well preserved. I don't think they can have been altered later, because the thing that is almost Cremonese about them is all within their biggness- you can't add wood. Superficially, if you take a look at the corner of this and a half-decent del Gesu (the Alard, maybe) you'll end up taking a second glance. The early English and Flemmish makers I'm thinking of tend to have almost no edgework. 

 

I think we are coming to the same conclusion from two different directions. Fundamentally, I think we've both made ourselves clear (as did Tarisio) that there isn't enough evidence to say that the label is without a doubt the genuine and correct one for that instrument. 

 

As far as the price goes, there's a lot of no-name Milanese stuff which is retailing around £40,000 for a violin, and more for a cello. Frankly, if we can be persuaded that this is Italian, of that kind of period, and its good sounding, I don't think a musician will regret buying it, especially as the condition seems to be pretty good. I'd much rather that than one of these not-quite-a-testore-lavazza-granicinish things that I've seen way to much of.

 

The shame is that Pavia is such a minor city for instrument making that there is no school or comparables. At least with the Andrea Stanzer, rare though it was - and perhaps unique - all of its idiosyncracies fitted into a Genoese orthodoxy found in other instruments of close generations, which was a huge stepping stone in being comfortable about it. Beware that there is no evidence that Sneider is 'undocumented', simply that for perfectly good reasons, nobody has bothered to go chasing around the Pavia archives in search of a lone and hardly known purported maker. Frankly, if his name is printed on a piece of paper anywhere that kind of makes him 'documented' - just a question of if the paper is right or wrong! 

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Thank you very much, Ben, for your views on this interesting matter; I enjoyed your writing about the Stanzer before, because it showed me interesting aspects of italian violin making. And, at least, I admire (or envy) people who can speak with such a nonchalance about "half-decent" Del Gesus, for us common violin-loving ones there are only full-decent Del Gesu violins.

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Hey there Ben & Hendrik.

 

Thanks for the info and thoughts.

 

I wasn't really going for a "this is bogus sham of a fraud" conversation. I just found that the wear patterns seemed contrived. How could that be ? Well it happens I am sure. Like a beautiful photo of a sunset one might think to be Photoshopped. However my main area of concern involves what could only be a single accident in one direction. Perhaps dragged over a rough surface. However, the lines are uniform in thickness yet they go wildly in different directions. How does this work ? Upper bout in the middle is the area I mean.

 

r.

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Rick,

I think there is a simple answer to the thickness, you have a varnish that is poorly connected to the ground. If it comes of at all it comes off in clumps. Therefore there is only one thickness of scratch, excepting major damage) just like on a Cremonese fiddle (see the photo of the d'Egville above), but actually fairly common of a number of varnishes.

I know what you mean by the scratches though. I don't have a sensible answer for them and they are out of place. On the other hand, they don't strike me as contrived in the way a bit if nineteenth century faking would be. Also because they seem to be the same depth as the more legitimate wear, the indication is that they also happened early in the life of the instrument before the varnish had completely dried through. Those are my thoughts.

Recently I saw an amazing tenor viola which had really random scratches going in all sorts of directions in a place you wouldn't expect to see wear. It turned out that if you held it over your chest, they fell exactly where you would expect to find the buttons of your coat. I really like that kind of crazy stuff!

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Hey Ben.

 

Thanks for your reply. Just looked funny to me somehow. Oh well, still feels good to be able to express an idea and get feedback from people like yourself.

 

Cheers.

 

r.

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