Sign in to follow this  
Dimitri Musafia

Early Amati with three peg holes?

Recommended Posts

Hello everyone, I have always wondered how on earth Andrea Amati was able to invent the violin in nearly perfect form from the start.

Reason for which while closely examining the 1570 "Charles IX" a couple days ago I suddenly realized that the filled-in peg holes in the oddest of positions make it rather plausible that the instrument originally had 3 pegs instead of four. That would put in line with the violin depicted in 1534 by Gaudenzio Ferrari in his affresco in the cathedral of Saronno, which likewise has only three pegs and yet is considered the first iconographic image of a modern violin.   

What currently is the consensus on this? Are their other early violins which originally had only three pegs? Thanks. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ciao Dimitri! First, to my eyes, the varnish in that violin is the most beautiful I've ever seen. Instead of studying Stradivari's varnish, I think we could study the varnish on that viollin.

I read about the 3 string violin David Boyden's book "The History of Violin Playing from Its Origins to 1761", and the theory came from G. Ferrari's "La Madonna degli Aranci" in Saronno. The problem is, was Gaudenzio Ferrari paiting the "reality"? Painters, in most of the cases, are not photographers, they don't paint the reality. I think that the violin was  not painted in a realistic way.

 La_Madonna_degli_aranci_-_Putti.jpg

 

The other problem is the lack of other scrolls with just 3 pegs, but many old scrolls were substituted till the Mantegazzas in Milan developed the grafting technique.

Guido Reni, who was bon into a family of musicians, painted what I think is the most "realistic" violin in arts:

st-cecilia-1606.jpg!HD.jpg

image.png.64226722ca847b0648bacc0588318a0d.png

And, even so, Reni's "Santa Cecilia" is not playing the violin in a realist way here. By the way, Santa Cecilia lived in the 3rd century in Rome, she would

never play a violin, so my question, are painters interested in reality?

 

I am really interested about this subject, thanks for bringing it here Dimitri!

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ciao Manfio! Thanks for the reply and information, very appreciated. And yes the varnish is wonderful (I didn't have a Wood lamp to check how much is original however), as is also the wood (both the back and the top). Too bad almost all of the painted decoration has worn away. It still has it's bridge done by Sacconi at Wurlitzer NY, although the string heights are now off.

However accurate Ferrari's painting was, in the image above (which is not the one I had in mind) you can still discern the horizontal pegs, F-holes, arched top, all which sets this instrument apart from the predecessors. I think I can even see a shoulder rest, but I'm not sure about that ;-)  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

No, the violin is the "ex-Charles IX", previously (and widely) thought built in 1566 (according to the label inside, with annotation by Lupot) and now categorized amongst the second series of instrument Amati provided to the Court of France four years later.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
On ‎21‎/‎03‎/‎2018 at 9:45 PM, MANFIO said:

Ciao Dimitri! First, to my eyes, the varnish in that violin is the most beautiful I've ever seen. Instead of studying Stradivari's varnish, I think we could study the varnish on that viollin.

I read about the 3 string violin David Boyden's book "The History of Violin Playing from Its Origins to 1761", and the theory came from G. Ferrari's "La Madonna degli Aranci" in Saronno. The problem is, was Gaudenzio Ferrari paiting the "reality"? Painters, in most of the cases, are not photographers, they don't paint the reality. I think that the violin was  not painted in a realistic way.

 La_Madonna_degli_aranci_-_Putti.jpg

 

The other problem is the lack of other scrolls with just 3 pegs, but many old scrolls were substituted till the Mantegazzas in Milan developed the grafting technique.

Guido Reni, who was bon into a family of musicians, painted what I think is the most "realistic" violin in arts:

st-cecilia-1606.jpg!HD.jpg

image.png.64226722ca847b0648bacc0588318a0d.png

And, even so, Reni's "Santa Cecilia" is not playing the violin in a realist way here. By the way, Santa Cecilia lived in the 3rd century in Rome, she would

never play a violin, so my question, are painters interested in reality?

 

I am really interested about this subject, thanks for bringing it here Dimitri!

 

Here's a still life by Pieter Claesz Bonita ( 1597-1660 )    Note the double purfling ..... certainly painting from reality :)

IMAG0918.jpg

IMAG0920.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think that Cozio mentions a 3 string violin by Andrea Amati. 

I know of an early and unidentifiable Italian violin (Mariani school, if you ask the owner - that can of worms) which is unambiguously for three strings, and 16th century in all likelihood. 

 

The English citole in the British Museum, which was converted into a violin in 1578 is a conundrum. The original (citole) pegs were upright and had been plugged, and in the conversion, a violin pegbox was clearly excavated for 3 strings, with a silver-gilt lid to it. When you look inside you see that the space for a fourth string has been dug out very roughly behind the hinge for the lid. So obviously at some time very close to 1578 it was both a 3 string and later a 4 string violin - actually it gets difficult because the tailpiece and fingerboard are coherent to that date, so its almost as if the member of the workshop making the changes thought to make it 3 string and worked away at that whilst his colleague was drilling out a 4 string tailpiece... doh! 

AN00252155_001_l.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
50 minutes ago, Ben Hebbert said:

I think that Cozio mentions a 3 string violin by Andrea Amati. 

I know of an early and unidentifiable Italian violin (Mariani school, if you ask the owner - that can of worms) which is unambiguously for three strings, and 16th century in all likelihood. 

 

The English citole in the British Museum, which was converted into a violin in 1578 is a conundrum. The original (citole) pegs were upright and had been plugged, and in the conversion, a violin pegbox was clearly excavated for 3 strings, with a silver-gilt lid to it. When you look inside you see that the space for a fourth string has been dug out very roughly behind the hinge for the lid. So obviously at some time very close to 1578 it was both a 3 string and later a 4 string violin - actually it gets difficult because the tailpiece and fingerboard are coherent to that date, so its almost as if the member of the workshop making the changes thought to make it 3 string and worked away at that whilst his colleague was drilling out a 4 string tailpiece... doh! 

AN00252155_001_l.jpg

Is that the crazy carved one with all the lil naked cherubs or whatever all over it?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Manfio ,

No high renaissance / high baroque painters paint playing in a realistic way. In the case of this Ecstacy o St Cecilia by Guido Reni, you anyway need to consider what the picture means and where he took his prototypes from - Raphael's Ecstacy of St Cecilia - in both examples mortal music gives way to heavenly music, so she is distracted from her playing by the celestial choirs of angels. 

Aside from this, the issues of Ekphrasis and the Paragone - i.e. the rivalry between the arts / the muses means that most painters of the past would consciously avoid painting a moment of music where sound was produced, instead depicting moments that are in every sense musical, but in which there is silence. This is to avoid the paradox of the ear expecting the sound that the eye sees, and also because this would amount to a challenge by painting against music as to which of the arts was greater. So never worry about playing positions. 

Reflexively, period musicians who try too hard to emulate what why see in paintings, just make me laugh. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Perhaps Dimitri is referring to these  mid-scroll bushings? Wish I owned a copy of that Amati DNA book :( . I found it more often on decorated instruments instruments, it seems to be absent from time to time as well (see the NMM 1574c violin). I spotted a version of it on the relatively early Brothers Amati violin 'King Henry IV' of 1595, but that's the last time it showed up in my photo collection. 

Since the bushing diameter seems relatively the same on both sides of the scroll, and its generally off the center-line placement (except for the Andrea Amati viola) I'm not sure that it's a peg hole. It does seem to pop up in the same general area, but it seems rather large for some sort of marking pin, and then there are scrolls that seem to completely lack it, so it probably wasn't fundamental to the Amati Construction Method. So my second (and last guess for the night) is perhaps a dowel passed all the way through and served as a bridge for the top peg? This might explain the non-center-line placement (again, excepting the AA viola).

Good riddle to ponder when staring at the ceiling at night.

AA 1536-1560c - SWL Viola.JPG

AA 1538 c - 'King' vlncello.jpg

AA 1538c - 'King' vlncello.jpg

AA 1560c - ex Kurtz violin.jpg

AA 1566 - Carlo IX violin.JPG

AA 1574 - NMM violin.jpg

AA 1574 c - NMM violin.jpg

BA 1595 - 'King Henry IV'.jpg

BA 1595c - 'King Henry IV'.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This should clarify what I mean (but you have to look carefully as the D peg is partially hiding the filled part).  

If you leave the A-peg in its place and imagine that the other existing pegs are not there you'll see that starting from the A-string peg there are two unused, equally-spaced filled-in peg holes, perfect for a three-peg set-up (with the advantage of a less acute angle at the nut, BTW).  

AndreaAmatiscroll.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, christian bayon said:

Maybe this small pin was for avoid the A strind to touch the D peg? The string set on te top of the pin and after, going to the A peg.

I know we're just throwing out ideas, but that's when I usually say something stupid that I regret posting. Glad you posted because it was starting to feel like one of those times. 

I've slept beautifully the last two nights which means I haven't come up with any new ideas on this point. 

Regarding the OP, I don't think we have enough info here to make a conclusive ruling on 3 peg violins as an early Amati variation. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Joel 

By English tradition, these pegs in old instruments is supposed to be an old Bavarian tradition, at least according to Hills. The only maker that I know of who consistently has these from new is Johannes Cuypers, which puts the kybosh on it being Bavarian. 

I would argue on these Amatis that from your evidence, their precise placement varies considerably from instrument to instrument. In my mind this suggests a later practice, perhaps in the French court to accomdate new kinds of strings rather than something by the maker. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 That makes sense Ben - after all why would the Amati install them after the decorations were applied? They wouldn't. 

On a side tangent that the OP brings up, I've been thinking of late that Andrea's success and legacy in establishing a tradition of violin making had a great deal to do with who he knew as well as what he was doing. Charles IX's mother was a Medici after all, and they famously picked winners (loosely tied to Da Vinci, but also Brunelleschi, Donatello, Botticelli, Michelangelo, even Galileo later on). I'm sure when Amati was commissioned to supply instruments to a Medici heir, people paid attention - that kind of success can stifle innovation and lead to copying. If this link is actually credible, it could have implications towards shared artisonal knowledge that would be more appropriately discussed in that awesome violin / instrument geometry thread you were part of. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Sign in to follow this  

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.