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ex "Kurtz"

Andrea Amati (Italian, Cremona ca. 1505–1578 Cremona)

ca. 1560
Cremona, Italy
Spruce, maple, ebony
Overall: 57.4cm (22 5/8in.) Label: 20.2 x 57.5cm (7 15/16 x 22 5/8in.) Body length: 35.26 cm (approx. 13-15/16 in.) Lower bouts: 20.15 cm (approx. 7-15/16 in.) Upper bouts: 16.12 cm (approx. 6-5/16 in.) Center bouts: 10.75 cm (approx. 4-1/4 in.)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Robert Alonzo Lehman Bequest, 1999
Accession Number:
  • Description

    Andrea Amati, earliest of the great Cremonese luthiers, has been credited with defining the violin's elegant form and setting the standard of superb craftsmanship that likewise characterizes the work of his followers, including two of his sons, his grandson Nicolò Amati, and Antonio Stradivari. The maker's label inside the body is a modern facsimile, but the violin's authenticity has never been seriously challenged, and its age has been confirmed by dendrochronology. Remnants of original varnish appear beneath later coats.

    The maple back and sides are decorated with a Latin couplet of unknown origin: "Quo unico propugnaculo stat stabiq[ue] religio" (By this bulwark alone religion stands and will stand). Additional painted ornaments are mostly worn off, but the fleurs-de-lys suggest a French provenance. Similarly decorated instruments by Andrea Amati bear a motto associated with the court of Charles IX, whose mother, Catherine de Médicis, cultivated Italian music in France.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Marking: 1. (stamped on front edge of fingerboard, dealer's inventory number) 3272
    2. the internal paper label is a modern facsimile

  • Provenance

    Ex. Coll.: Arved Kurtz 1941-1998; Emil Herman; Wurlitzer collection; Robert L. Dennison; Dr. A. Steiner-Schweitzer, Zurich (1926); George Somes, England?; Jean Baptiste Cartier, Paris, by 1926; Charles IX of France?

    Provenance: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1999; Frederick Oster (dealer); Dr. Arved Kurtz, 1941-1998; Robert Dennison; Harry Wahl; Dr. A. Steiner-Schweitzer, 1926; Rudolph Wurlitzer Co., (dealers); W.E. Hill and Sons, (dealers), 1923; Hilda Barry, 1896; W.E. Hill and Sons (dealers); Sydney Cortauld, 1890; Edward Heron-Allen, 1885; George Soames (or Somes), 1873; Edward Withers, Sr., 1873 (dealer); Sir Louis Mallet, 1873; Oliphant and Pellew, 1870

    From Cacciatori, Fausto. ed. "Andrea Amati Opera Omnia: Les Violons Du Roi." the following is written regarding the provenance of this violin: "This violin is mentioned in the early account book of the London violin maker and dealer Edward Withers Sr. Withers gives the names of Oliphant and Pellew as owners at an indeterminate period prior to about 1870. In 1873, Sir Louis Mallet, the British Under-Secretary of State for India, sold the violin to Withers, who in the same year sold it to Michael Longridge only to have it returned after a short time. Later in 1873, George Soames (or Somes) acquired it from Withers and possibly it then passed to Edward Heron-Allen, who was listed as the lender at the South Kensington Exhibition held in London in 1885. IN addition to photographically illustrating the violin in his influential and widely disseminated treatise Violin Making As It Was, And Is, Heron-Allen also wrote a series of articles in 1894 for the "Violin Times" of London in which he attempted to treat in a critical manner the subject of Andrea Amati's decorated instruments. By 1890 Sydney Cortauld was the violin's owner and after some unsuccessful appearances on the London auction market it came to the firm of W. E. Hill & Sons. In 1896, the Hills sold it to Miss Hilda Barry, the daughter of the Sir John Wolfe-Barry, the architect of London's Tower Bridge. In 1923 it returned to the Hills, who sold it to the Rudolph Wurlitzer Co. of New York. The following year Emil Herrmann acquired it, after which the violin spent short periods in the collections of Dr. Steiner-Schweitzer in Switzerland and Harry Wahl in Finland, before returning to the US to become the property of Robert Dennison, who lent it to the Stradivari Bicentenary Exposition held in Cremona in 1937. Dr. Arverd Kurtz acquired it in 1941 and retained it for more than a half century, and during his ownership the violin again briefly visited Cremona in October, 1982. Through Frederick Oster, the instrument entered the permanent collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 1999, with funding provided by the Robert Alonzo Lehman bequest."

  • References

    "Guitar Heroes: Legendary Craftsmen from Italy to New York." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin (2011), pg. 8,10, ill.

    Ed. James R. Houghton. Philippe de Montebello and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1977-2008. The Metropolitan Museum of Art
    The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2009, pg. 76-77, fig. 90-91, ill.

    Fausto Cacciatori, in Andrea Amati Opera Omnia: Les Violons du Roi. Exhibition catalogue., Consorzio Liutai Antonio Stradivari Cremona. 2007, pg. 214-223, ill.

    "Recent Acquisitions: A Selection 1998-1999." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin (1999), pg. 28, ill.

  • See also