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Fussen violins vs. Mittenwald violins


zhiyi_zhang617
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While believe a connection between two schools, although Fussen violins tend to be rare and older, I, as a novice, is very confused, stylistically in particular.

There are differences, probably apparent for an expert.

An instrument of mine, probably ca 1800 or a little ealier, was believed to be a Fussen. Clearly, luthiers who are the experts in German violin-making could tell Fussen and Mittenwald apart, couldn't they?

Hope Jocob or others would generously comment.

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2 hours ago, zhiyi_zhang617 said:

While believe a connection between two schools, besides Fussen violins tend to be rare and older, I, as a novice, is very confused, stylistically in particular.

There are differences, probably apparent for an expert.

An instrument of mine, probably ca 1800 or a little ealier, was believed to be a Fussen. Clearly, luthiers who are the experts in German violin-making could tell Fussen and Mittenwald apart, could not they?

Hope Jocob or others would generously comment.

I'm sure Jacob could explain the "Fussen diaspora" for the class :) 

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12 hours ago, zhiyi_zhang617 said:

While believe a connection between two schools, besides Fussen violins tend to be rare and older, I, as a novice, is very confused, stylistically in particular.

There are differences, probably apparent for an expert.

An instrument of mine, probably ca 1800 or a little ealier, was believed to be a Fussen. Clearly, luthiers who are the experts in German violin-making could tell Fussen and Mittenwald apart, couldn't they?

Hope Jocob or others would generously comment.

You have given me a difficult task, to explain that in one post!

There are similarities and differences. Mittenwald was a town, where the first Klotz came back from his travels, and he and his sons taught much of the town, so that it became, over several generations a craft (later industry) that the whole town, with ebbs and flows down to the present day, lived from (along with agriculture and tourism). Füssen was an old lute building area. Rather than establish a large industry there, the Füssen system was more to send 13 years old boys to vm relatives abroad, where they generally learnt the tradition of the town they went to. There were beaten paths in all directions of the compass, for instance the eastern one, along the Danube down to Vienna, or the South-eastern one, Füssen-Innsbruck-Bozen-Padua-Venice, or the southern one, down to Rome, so that in actual fact, not such a tremendous amount of fiddles were made in the town of Füssen itself

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Appreciated, Jocob.

Your reply is informative and helpful for us to understand the differences in evolution of the two centers.

However, if someone has a violin ca. 1780 with the typical characteristics of Mittenwald (e.g., scroll fluting gone to the bit end, or simply very Klotz-ish in general). Would we be able to tell it is indeed a Fussen, not a Mittenwald?

I guess my confusion is the typical structure/making method (e.g., slightly small but very deeply cut Fussen-ish scroll with fluting to the bit end), varnish (e.g., dark reddish brown), and appearance (e.g., both tend to have fine grain spruce top, hooky low f-wing, one-piece bottom rib or the bottom rib with ebony replacement in the middle over the endpin, etc.) in some if not the majority from both schools are too similar for a novice like me to tell them apart.

The violin I have had the fore-described features (pls. see the photos attached). However, both local luthiers I visited believed it is a Fussen. Therefore, I just wonder how they would be able to conclude? Hope it is not because of the bridge on the violinB)!

body (front).jpg

to the bit end.jpg

graft scroll and peg hole bushing.jpg

ebony rib joint.jpg

scroll front view.jpg

bridge 2.jpg

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2 hours ago, zhiyi_zhang617 said:

I guess my confusion is the typical structure/making method (e.g., slightly small but very deeply cut Fussen-ish scroll with fluting to the bit end), varnish (e.g., dark reddish brown), and appearance (e.g., both tend to have fine grain spruce top, hooky low f-wing, one-piece bottom rib or the bottom rib with ebony replacement in the middle over the endpin, etc.) in some if not the majority from both schools are too similar for a novice like me to tell them apart.

My guess is that Füssen, a bit similar to Tyrol, is often used as a sort of synonym for "somehow South German but I have no idea what it is".

The scrolls for example are at violins I'm taking as bona fide Füssen makers like Sympert Niggel (the younger) or Stoss rather bold, bolder than average Mittenwald, and the varnish color can be from light orange to deep brown. As Jacob said, there weren't that many at this place, and often confused with the nearby Vils in Tyrol. There seems to be a certain change of style between the early like Ott https://maestronet.com/forum/index.php?/topic/330865-early-füssen-makers-johannes-ott/

and the later like Gedler (known for flamboyant outlines), Niggel II or Stoss working more close to the Mittenwald style. Some are pictured here 

https://tarisio.com/cozio-archive/cozio-carteggio/fussen-school-part-2/

What makes your violin a particular Fuessen is beyond my understanding. Possibly both the persons you asked were instructed by the same source about what could define Füssen?

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51 minutes ago, Blank face said:

My guess is that Füssen, a bit similar to Tyrol, is often used as a sort of synonym for "somehow South German but I have no idea what it is".

The scrolls for example are at violins I'm taking as bona fide Füssen makers like Sympert Niggel (the younger) or Stoss rather bold, bolder than average Mittenwald, and the varnish color can be from light orange to deep brown. As Jacob said, there weren't that many at this place, and often confused with the nearby Vils in Tyrol. There seems to be a certain change of style between the early like Ott https://maestronet.com/forum/index.php?/topic/330865-early-füssen-makers-johannes-ott/

and the later like Gedler (known for flamboyant outlines), Niggel II or Stoss working more close to the Mittenwald style. Some are pictured here 

https://tarisio.com/cozio-archive/cozio-carteggio/fussen-school-part-2/

What makes your violin a particular Fuessen is beyond my understanding. Possibly both the persons you asked were instructed by the same source about what could define Füssen?

Thanks a lot, BF and Jacob!

Very helpful, apparently the differetiation is irrelevant to the bridge with a stemp of a named luthier in NYC!

To simplify and be explicit, would we be able to unambiguously differentiate a Klotz ca 1800 from a Geissenhof?

Best.

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23 minutes ago, jacobsaunders said:

Certainly, although yours is neither

Yes, I asked a similar question two years ago for the same violin.

You generously provided your opinion as it could possibly be a Thir (a Fussen):

The following is the conversation two years ago. Highly appreciate your insight!

Posted April 4, 2020

I asked: Thank you, Jacob; is this also a Thir (or maybe better than a Thir)?

 

 

 

Your replied:

a bit similar, but I would need far more Information than that to form an opinion

 

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55 minutes ago, zhiyi_zhang617 said:

Yes, I asked a similar question two years ago for the same violin.

You generously provided your opinion as it could possibly be a Thir (a Fussen):

The following is the conversation two years ago. Highly appreciate your insight!

Posted April 4, 2020

I asked: Thank you, Jacob; is this also a Thir (or maybe better than a Thir)?

 

 

 

Your replied:

a bit similar, but I would need far more Information than that to form an opinion

 

I’m not sure to understand your point. JG Thir isn’t Fuessen but Viennese, though different from a Geissenhof. The old thread is here (though the violin looks somehow different there, maybe a matter of photos):

https://maestronet.com/forum/index.php?/topic/345629-18th-century-or-not/#comment-884651

 

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On 4/24/2022 at 2:54 PM, Blank face said:

I’m not sure to understand your point. JG Thir isn’t Fuessen but Viennese, though different from a Geissenhof. The old thread is here (though the violin looks somehow different there, maybe a matter of photos):

https://maestronet.com/forum/index.php?/topic/345629-18th-century-or-not/#comment-884651

 

The very same violin; all changes during the past two years are the strings and the tailpiece, as you would be able to see.

Are (the typical) Vienneses thought to evolve or derive from the eralier Fussens? Both you and Jacob would be the right ones to educate us.

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5 hours ago, zhiyi_zhang617 said:

 

Are (the typical) Vienneses thought to evolve or derive from the eralier Fussens?

I don't think that I'm the right person to know and explain this in detail, but as Jacob said the Füssener didn't go out as readily trained makers but as very young learners, so their different local styles were probably a mixture from different sources.

To tell more about your violin we would need more, better and focussed photos, from all the details described in the pinned photography thread, measurements of all parts (incld. rib height), and a description, better photos, of the inside work. Actually there isn't much to tell.

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Maybe it is necessary to explain as well that makers in fussen were building mostly lutes long before violins became fashion. (From the top of my head it can be traced back to the 15th century) This makes the Fussen school quite different to the Mittenwald school where to my knowledge basically no lutes have been made. 
 

As Jacob said, makers in Füssen had spread a network where in other cities in nowadays Germany Austria, Czech, and Italy family relatives of Füssen makers were working. This network was built when makers in Füssen were making only lutes and the demand for their instruments elsewhere in Europe caused them to establish workshops in other cities. (It’s probably not surprising that they favored warm and sunny Italy where you can trace in almost every major city names of lute makers from Füssen.) 

The tragedy of Füssen came in the war of 30 years. The city became more than once a battlefield and enemies (was it the Swedish army?) were looting the city more than once during the war period. This made many inhabitants flee to other safer cities, the reason why you find Füssen family names all over the place in Europe. For example Fent in London and Paris. The mentioned names of  Geissenhof and Thir had also family origins in Füssen.

—————————

concerning the characteristics of their instruments there seems to be less consistency compared to Mittenwald. Very often a very thin dark brown varnish and tiny corners can be an indication for Füssen school.  
 

For deeper insights it’s advisable to learn German and read the books of Alois Bletschacher and Adolf Layer on this subject. 

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19 hours ago, Blank face said:

I don't think that I'm the right person to know and explain this in detail, but as Jacob said the Füssener didn't go out as readily trained makers but as very young learners, so their different local styles were probably a mixture from different sources.

To tell more about your violin we would need more, better and focussed photos, from all the details described in the pinned photography thread, measurements of all parts (incld. rib height), and a description, better photos, of the inside work. Actually there isn't much to tell.

Corners (front and back) are blocked (dust built up around the blocks and too difficult for me to take clear inside photos), The measurements are as follows:

23.2 in total length

14.0 in back

7.9 in lower bout

6.5 in upper bout

4.3 in C-bout,

1.2 in (front) -1.3 in (back) rib (between the table plate and back plate)

body.jpg

C-bout.jpg

corner.jpg

scroll.jpg

corner inside.jpg

label.jpg

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Thanks for the now much clearer photos, but they are still shot from angles making it difficult to tell much. In particular I'm missing straight flush pictures from the complete front, back, sides and scroll. How they should be is described partially here:https://maestronet.com/forum/index.php?/topic/333119-how-to-photograph-an-instrument-for-identifcation-purposes/#comment-764229

Furthermore views of the underside of the volute would be necessary to tell how deeply the fluting was carved and close ups of the rib joints.

At least the view of the corner block seems to indicate that the lining isn't morticed into the block and that they are relative long in the C bout. This would exclude an inside mould construction and also a South German/Viennese origin - maybe it's rather French or from somewhere else. But it's not to tell for sure now.

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On 4/27/2022 at 2:56 AM, Blank face said:

Thanks for the now much clearer photos, but they are still shot from angles making it difficult to tell much. In particular I'm missing straight flush pictures from the complete front, back, sides and scroll. How they should be is described partially here:https://maestronet.com/forum/index.php?/topic/333119-how-to-photograph-an-instrument-for-identifcation-purposes/#comment-764229

Furthermore views of the underside of the volute would be necessary to tell how deeply the fluting was carved and close ups of the rib joints.

At least the view of the corner block seems to indicate that the lining isn't morticed into the block and that they are relative long in the C bout. This would exclude an inside mould construction and also a South German/Viennese origin - maybe it's rather French or from somewhere else. But it's not to tell for sure now.

Thank you, BF.

Hope the following info helps (I changed the measurements in mm):

355 mm back (without the button)

201 mm width between lower bouts

165 mm width between upper bouts

108 mm width between C-bouts

29.5 mm (upper bout rib near button) and 33 mm (lower bout rib near endpin) (measurements between the table plate and back plate).

The scroll fluting clearly went to the bit end (as shown in one of the photos). Also, the violin is quite old (peg bushings, grafted scroll, and repairs, etc.), and felt light in one's hands.

 

 

 

IMG_2397.jpg

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IMG_2413.jpg

IMG_2422.jpg

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IMG_2431.jpg

IMG_2440.jpg

IMG_2436.jpg

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Thanks again to the comments and opinions from BF and Jacob. Now, it has been suggested it is neither a Fussen, a Viennese, or a Mittenwald. This fiddle appears to be somewhat peculiar, doesn't it?

To my untrained eyes, it has a look of an old South German. Did the measurements with additional photos provide any clue for ID, or what it could be?

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2 hours ago, zhiyi_zhang617 said:

...................Now, it has been suggested it is neither a Fussen, a Viennese, or a Mittenwald. This fiddle appears to be somewhat peculiar, doesn't it?

It must be Tyrolian.  :huh: :lol:   outtahere.gif..gif.a14ed5e231de4bbf19dd5e2b82f29d40.gif

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5 hours ago, zhiyi_zhang617 said:

Thanks again to the comments and opinions from BF and Jacob. Now, it has been suggested it is neither a Fussen, a Viennese, or a Mittenwald. This fiddle appears to be somewhat peculiar, doesn't it?

In my untrained eyes, it has a look of an old South German. Did the measurements with additional photos provide any clue for ID, or what it could be?

It's better to say nothing than "I don't know". I didn't suggest anything but said that the one and only, very unclear photo of the corner block could indicate that it wasn't made with an inside mould (which was the usual construction method for Vienna, Mittenwald and later 18th century Füssen).

By the actual photos I wouldn't exclude anything (maybe except Vogtland), nor do I have a particular idea. Unfortunately it's still unclear how the ribs were constructed. For a South German inside work the blocks/linings should look like this, blocks significantly longer in the outer ribs and the linings mortised into the blocks. 

BTW, I looked into Bletschacher who doesn't show pictures of any violins, so it's not a big help here (though historically most highly interesting).

IMG_6600.JPG

IMG_123849.JPG

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On 4/28/2022 at 3:21 AM, Blank face said:

It's better to say nothing than "I don't know". I didn't suggest anything but said that the one and only, very unclear photo of the corner block could indicate that it wasn't made with an inside mould (which was the usual construction method for Vienna, Mittenwald and later 18th century Füssen).

By the actual photos I wouldn't exclude anything (maybe except Vogtland), nor do I have a particular idea. Unfortunately it's still unclear how the ribs were constructed. For a South German inside work the blocks/linings should look like this, blocks significantly longer in the outer ribs and the linings mortised into the blocks. 

BTW, I looked into Bletschacher who doesn't show pictures of any violins, so it's not a big help here (though historically most highly interesting).

IMG_6600.JPG

IMG_123849.JPG

Tried very hard, and believe to have some new info to provide: the corner blocks do appear to be significantly longer in the outer ribs than those in the C-bouts (I could see but would not be able to take photos to show due to the awkard angle, apologies). However, the linings, as BF already commented, stopped at as opposed to mortise into the blocks, which you can see in photos attached.

Once again it is perplexing. Welcome all to comment.

IMG_2448.jpg

IMG_2450.jpg

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So it's unlikely that the violin is from the South German/Austrian region, given that everything is original. Could you make some focussed close ups of the rib joints (side view). Also from the lower rib, at the end pin.

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On 4/29/2022 at 6:53 AM, Blank face said:

So it's unlikely that the violin is from the South German/Austrian region, given that everything is original. Could you make some focussed close ups of the rib joints (side view). Also from the lower rib, at the end pin.

Here you go; Thanks a lot, BF.

Two of the photos indicate that the rib joints were mortised.

IMG_2473.jpg

IMG_2472.jpg

IMG_2476.jpg

IMG_2478.jpg

IMG_2474.jpg

IMG_2477.jpg

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