Antonio Stradivari (Italian, 1644–1737)
Maple, spruce, ebony
Violin: L. 23 in. (58.4 cm), W. 8 in. (20.3 cm); bow: L. 29 in. (73.7 cm); case: L. 31 in. (78.7 cm)
Bequest of Annie Bolton Matthews Bryant, 1933 (34.86.1)
Antonio Stradivari has long been thought to have been an apprentice of Nicolò Amati, but census documents do not list Stradivari as a garzone (shopboy) in the Amati household. Stradivari's early instruments do show the stylistic influence of the Amati, but as Girolamo II and Nicolò were the principal makers in Cremona during Stradivari's formative years, it would be natural for Stradivari to have been influenced by their work. Antonio Stradivari worked with two of his sons, Francesco (1671–1743) and Omobono (1679–1742), and today over 600 instruments survive from this prodigious workshop. Stradivari experimented with the shape and arching of the violin. By 1700, he abandoned this pattern and reverted to the broader shape that was typical of his earlier violins. These violins are sometimes referred to as "grand pattern" violins, but he actually made use of several large forms that varied slightly in dimensions and proportions. Stradivari employed flatter arching than his predecessors, and this contributed to the production of a more powerful tone. From about 1700 to 1720, his "Golden Period," Stradivari produced many of his finest violins.
Watch a video of Eric Grossman playing "The Antonius".