‘Perera’

Violin by Antonio Stradivari,
Cremona, 1679

Previously listed under the name ‘Parera’, the violin was in fact named after Pedro Ricardo Perera, cigar merchant, English first-class cricketer and collector from Charlton, Manchester who acquired it in 1860.

This fine example of the master’s work has a one piece back with faint narrow figure, one original wing and varnish of a light golden-brown colour.

‘Captain Savile’

Violin by Antonio Stradivari,
Cremona, 1680 c.

This violin is named after Captain J.H.D. Savile, an amateur player and a member of the Rifle Brigade in the British Army, who owned it when the Hills published their important account of ‘The Life and Work of Stradivari’ in 1903. In the last 30 years the ‘Captain Savile’ has passed through J & A Beare’s doors three times, having been sold by the firm in 1992, 2006 and 2014.

This violin is a very fine example of Stradivari’s early work, with a one piece back with faint, narrow flames and varnish of a warm golden-orange colour.

‘Benecke’

Violin by Antonio Stradivari,
Cremona, 1694

The violin is named after E.C. Benecke who bought it in 1862 from London dealers Arthur & John Betts. The Beneckes were bankers with connections to the musical world and retained the Stradivari until 1914, when it was sold to Dutch diamond dealer Jac Romyn for the use by his son, a promising violinist. In 1945 the violin was bought by Jack O’Brien of the Griller Quartet. The ‘Benecke’ was featured in the Ashmolean Stradivari Exhibition in Oxford in 2013.

The violin is an outstanding example of Stradivari’s work during his ‘long pattern’ period and retains an exceptional amount of original, unspoilt varnish. It is in remarkable condition with the crisp craftsmanship of the maker’s hands still clearly visible.

‘Lord Aylesford’

Cello by Antonio Stradivari,
Cremona, 1696

Owned by Italian violin virtuoso Felice Giardini in the second half of the 18th century, about a century later the cello was purchased by English amateur cellist, Lord Aylesford from whom it took its name.

For a brief period after World War II, the famous cellist Gregor Piatigorski also played on it. Other players include internationally acclaimed cellist Janos Starker and more recently, Pablo Ferràndez who is currently borrowing the cello from the Nippon Music Foundation who bought it through J & A Beare in 2003.

‘Muirhead’

Violin by Antonio Stradivari,
Cremona, 1696

The violin was sold in 1874 by London dealers W.E. Hill & Sons to keen amateur Mrs. Louisa Emily Baring, who had married the 1st Baron Revelstoke of the influential banking family. Interestingly, the Stradivari was to take its name instead from a Mr. Muirhead, a stockbroker and amateur player, who bought the violin from Lady Revelstoke. The instrument went on to change hands several times and lately, it has been sold through J & A Beare twice in the space of a few years.

Another exceptional example from Stradivari’s ‘long pattern’ period, this violin features a one piece back in handsomely figured maple with varnish of a warm orange-brown colour on a golden ground.

‘Cabriac’

Violin by Antonio Stradivari,
Cremona, 1696-98

Named after the Count de Cabriac who acquired it in the mid-20th century, the violin was notably featured in the 1963 Isola Bella exhibition of Stradivari violins. The instrument eventually came through the doors of J & A Beare where it has been sold three times in the last few years.

Another good example from Stradivari’s ‘long pattern’ period, the violin has a back made with two pieces of handsomely figured maple with broad flames, its varnish is of a warm orange-brown colour on a lighter ground. A crowned fleur-de-lys is branded twice on the lower ribs.

‘Baron Knoop’

Violin by Antonio Stradivari,
Cremona, 1698

Towards the end of the 1690s, Stradivari made a number of violins that shared the design concept of the ‘long pattern’ but were of normal length and, the ‘Baron Knoop’ is a fine example of this group of instruments.

Baron Johann Ludwig Knoop was one of the greatest collectors of violins: he was very active in the second half of the 19th century acquiring important instruments, including numerous violins by Stradivari (including the ‘Lady Jeanne’ and ‘Alard’), del Gesù, Amati, Bergonzi and Guadagnini. Several of these instruments bear his name but, ironically, it seems that he never owned the ‘Baron Knoop’ 1698 Stradivari.

In 1966 this violin passed to Albert Frost, an enthusiastic amateur and a great benefactor of classical music in the UK. On his death in 2010 it transpired that he had set up a foundation to support young string players, at which point J & A Beare sold the ‘Baron Knoop’ to the current owner, accomplishing his wishes.

‘Cristiani’

Cello by Antonio Stradivari,
Cremona, 1700

The ‘Cristiani’ cello received its name thanks to its association with Mademoiselle Elise Barber-Cristiani, a fine violoncellist for whom Mendelssohn wrote his ‘Lied ohne Worte’ for cello and piano in 1845.

In 2005 the Walter Stauffer Foundation purchased the instrument from the grand-daughter of Mr Lewis Bruce, an English collector from Berkshire, through J & A Beare.

The Cristiani is one of the great surviving Stradivari cellos, exhibiting a wonderful coat of fine red varnish of the best type. Built on the large ‘A’ form, it has subsequently been reduced in length for modern performance.

It is singled out in the Hill’s ‘Life of Stradivari’ as one of the finest Stradivari cellos of the period.

‘Lord Newlands’

Violin by Antonio Stradivari,
Cremona, 1702

The instrument is named after Scottish army officer, William Wallace Hozier, later 1st Baron Newlands, whose portrait still hangs at the National Portrait Gallery in London and who purchased the violin around 1902.

The instrument was exhibited at the CINOA Exhibition of Bath in 1973 as the most outstanding violin in the Hill collection.

It has since been sold by J & A Beare to the Nippon Music Foundation who lends the violin to outstanding soloists such as Ray Chen (left).

‘King Maximilian Joseph’

Violin by Antonio Stradivari,
Cremona, 1702

Named after King Maximilian I Joseph Wittelsbach, King of Bavaria from 1805-1825, on his death the violin was passed to his son King Ludwig I Bavaria.

The violin has been played by some notable violinists including Berent Korfker and Andreas Reiner.

A somewhat smaller violin, the back is in two pieces of maple with flames of medium width; the varnish of a warm orange-brown colour on golden ground; in honour of its royal owner, the initials MJ are branded on the back.

‘Rivaz, Baron Gutmann’

Violin by Antonio Stradivari,
Cremona, 1707

It is believed that well-known amateur violinist F. Rivaz purchased the violin in 1818. From him, the instrument passed to Mr. G Palmer; he had it certified by W. E. Hill & Sons who described it as a ‘splendid specimen’.

In 1922, the violin was sold to Baron Gutmann and subsequently purchased by Emil Herrmann who then went on to sell it to an American collector.

More recently, the violin was purchased through J & A Beare by the Norwegian foundation Dextra Musica.

‘Dancla’

Violin by Antonio Stradivari,
Cremona, 1708

This violin was owned from 1882 by the violinist Charles Dancla, a professor at the Paris Conservatoire who was associated with several Stradivari violins throughout his career. Other examples from c.1703 and 1710 also carry his name.
The back is in one piece of quarter-cut maple with strong, medium width figure running horizontally the varnish of an orange-brown colour on a golden ground.

‘Andrejus, Le Loup’

Violin by Antonio Stradivari,
Cremona, 1708-09

This violin is named after two of its previous owners; the first was the Le Loup de Sancy family from the French Auvergne region. They bought it in 1826 and retained it for over a century. Eventually, Ian Wolfmanns purchased the violin in 1920 for his son-in-law, Alexis Andreeff, a violinist also known as Andrejeus. He became the director of the Conservatoire Russe de Paris and kept the violin until 1960. The Stradivari changed hands several times after that, until Beare’s sold it in 1989, then again in 2012 and 2013. 

The back is in one piece of attractively figured maple with flames of medium width descending very slightly from left to right; the varnish of a rich orange-red colour on golden ground.

‘Artot’

Violin by Antonio Stradivari,
Cremona, 1709

Named after the Belgian virtuoso, Alexandre Artot (1815-1845), it is not known how he acquired it nor where the violin resided after his death, but by 1878, it was in the hands of a de Villaine, a name associated with one of the great Burgundy wine domains. In more recent times, a Hill diary entry informs us that the then-owner was “refused insurance as […] was not capable of taking care of it. Brought in with fake cracks applied with mascara pencil, blamed on witches in the house”!

The back is made from a magnificently figured piece of maple, closely matched to that of the ‘Pucelle’ of the same year.

‘Vieuxtemps, Hauser’

Violin by Antonio Stradivari,
Cremona, 1710

The ‘Vieuxtemps, Hauser’ is made on a large form that Stradivari developed and used extensively until nearly the end of his life.

The violin was owned in the 19th century first by Belgian violinist and composer Henri Vieuxtemps and then by Hungarian violinist Miska Hauser. Hauser was a virtuoso, composer and a pupil of Rudolph Kreutzer. After Miska’s death, the violin passed to his brother, Isidor and from him to private investor and benefactor Gordon McKay. The violin was later acquired through Beare’s by the collector and violinist, Howard Gottlieb of Evanston, Illinois.

In a letter dated 1889 to Isidor Hauser, New York dealer August Germunder states that “It must be difficult to find another genuine Stradivari with a tone equal to this on the G string.”

‘Gibson, Huberman’

Violin by Antonio Stradivari,
Cremona, 1713

The ‘Gibson, Huberman’ is one of the great sounding violins from Stradivari’s Golden Period and one with the most dramatic histories. In 1916 the violin was stolen from its then-owner, the Polish virtuoso Bronislaw Huberman, while he was on tour, but it was recovered a few days later. More famously, it was stolen again in 1936 from the green room at Carnegie Hall while Huberman was performing on his other violin, a Guarneri del Gesù.

The Stradivari remained at large for nearly fifty years. In 1985 it resurfaced when Julian Altman, a violinist who had once played in the Washington National Symphony Orchestra, confessed to his wife on his deathbed that he had bought the stolen violin for $100 and had been playing on it all this time.

J & A Beare first identified and then restored the violin, before selling it in 1988 to Norbert Brainin of the Amadeus String Quartet. In 2001 J & A Beare was asked by Brainin to sell the violin again. By chance, at that time  Joshua Bell came into the shop to check over his current violin before using it at the Royal Albert Hall BBC Proms concert that night. He tried the 1713 Stradivari and felt so comfortable with it that he performed on it a few hours later. Soon afterwards, he managed to acquire the ‘Gibson, Huberman’ and it is still his concert instrument today.

‘Milstein, Goldman’

Violin by Antonio Stradivari,
Cremona, 1716

Previously the Stradivari was simply called the ‘Goldman’, as it had been acquired in 1911 by Henry Goldman, amateur violin player and son of the Goldman Sachs investment bank founder. In 1945 the violin was purchased by Nathan Milstein, who later renamed it the ‘Marie-Therese’, after his wife and daughter. Milstein needs no introduction: one of the greatest musicians of the twentieth century, he was a regular visitor at Beare’s when the company was still based in Soho. The violin stayed in his family until 2006, when Beare’s sold it to an American philanthropist.

‘Tyrrell’

Violin by Antonio Stradivari,
Cremona, 1717

Stradivari made the ‘Tyrrell’ when he was at the peak of his career and the violin is one of only a handful of instruments by the master that still exists in pristine condition. The violin is named after Mr Edward Avery Tyrrell: a ‘Remembrancer’ by profession, his role was to represent the interests of the Corporation of the City of London in parliament and elsewhere.

The violin remained in the Tyrrell family until 1911, when W.E. Hill & Sons were entrusted with its sale. The London dealers managed to sell the violin three times over the next 40 years: in one of their letters to a buyer they described the ‘Tyrrell’ as ‘amongst the best existing examples of the maker’.

The violin featured in the 2013 seminal exhibition at the Ashmolean Museum.

‘San Lorenzo’

Violin by Antonio Stradivari,
Cremona, 1718

The ‘San Lorenzo’ violin is unique among all Stradivari instruments, in that it bears an inscription visible on the ribs that reads “GLORIA ET DIVITIE IN DOMO EIUS” which translates as “Glory and Wealthy Shall be in this House”. This phrase is taken from Psalm 112 and appears, in various forms, in pictorial and sculptural arts dating back to the Renaissance. The inscription lends value to the belief that the violin was initially presented as a wedding present to Mauro D’Alay, a noted violinist from Parma. The violin is also a rare example of an instrument whose provenance can be traced back to the Stradivari workshop.

In the early 1800s, the violin was in the possession of Giovanni Battista Viotti, the famous violinist and composer. However, it was the subsequent owner who gave the instrument its name. Viotti, who liked to deal in violins possibly leveraging on his celebrity as a virtuoso, sold the Stradivari to the Spanish Grand Duke of San Lorenzo in 1823 and the violin remained in the family until 1903.

The ‘San Lorenzo’ is a very fine example of the maker’s work, with a two-piece back with broad flames and varnish of an orange-brown colour on a golden ground.

‘Parlow’

Violin by Guarneri del Gesù,
Cremona, 1735

The ‘Parlow’ has passed through some renowned hands over the centuries including those of the Italian virtuoso Giovanni Battista Viotti and his pupil, Pierre Baillot.

However, the violinist to whom this del Gesù owes its name is the Canadian prodigy, Kathleen Parlow, who famously came into possession of it in 1908. Kathleen was the first international student to be admitted to the prestigious St. Petersburg Conservatory to study under Leopold Auer. Dubbed “the lady of the golden bow” for her exceptional bow technique, she is recognised as one of the greatest female violinists of the 20th century.

The violin is a fine example from the maker’s best years, with a one-piece back of attractively figured maple and red-orange varnish on a lighter ground.

‘Panette’

Violin by Guarneri del Gesù,
Cremona, 1737

Renowned French luthier Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume used to own this Guarneri del Gesù until 1847, when he sold it to the Vicomte de Panette from which the violin takes its name. However, the instrument is not known for the aristocratic collectors who owned it but for the distinguished violinists who played on it.

The first of these was Isaac Stern, who famously used it as his concert violin from 1947 – 1965. In 2005, the violin was consigned to J & A Beare for sale by the world-famous American connoisseur and collector, David Fulton. An enlightened financial institution subsequently purchased it for the use by violinist Renaud Capucon. The French soloist has since purchased the instrument for himself and praises it for its depth of sound, rounded and homogenous tone and extraordinary purity of its E string. It is a violin, he says, that can do everything: versatile enough for Bach and Ligeti.

‘Vieuxtemps’

Violin by Guarneri del Gesù,
Cremona, 1741

This exceptional Guarneri del Gesù violin is named after renowned violinist Henri Vieuxtemps. The Belgian violinist and composer was so devoted to the instrument and took such great care of it that, when he died, the violin was carried on a pillow behind him at his funeral procession by distinguished violinist Eugène Ysaÿe.

The violin was also lent to Yehudi Menuhin by renowned British philanthropist Ian Stoutzker. In a 1974 letter to his benefactor, Menuhin expressed his preference for the tone of this violin over that of his own 1714 ‘Soil’ Stradivari.

When Stoutzker decided to part with the ‘Vieuxtemps’ in 2012, J & A Beare secured the sale for a record-breaking price in excess of $16m. Later it was announced that Anne Akiko Meyers would receive the exclusive and lifetime use of this outstanding violin.

‘Carrodus’

Violin by Guarneri del Gesù,
Cremona, 1743

This magnificent Guarneri del Gesù used to belong to the 18th century English violinist John Carrodus.

In 2007 the ‘Carrodus’ was privately purchased through J & A Beare for the use of Richard Tognetti, leader and musical director of the Australian Chamber Orchestra. At the time it was sold for a world record price of $6.6m.

Its bold appearance and luminous orange-red varnish conspire to make it one of the most desirable Cremonese masterpieces.

‘Schidlof’

Viola by Nicolò Bergonzi,
Cremona, 1796

The ‘Schidlof’ takes its name from Austrian-born violist Peter Schidlof. Driven out of Vienna by the Anschluss of 1938, Schidlof escaped to England where he met fellow Jewish refugees, Norbert Brainin and Siegmund Nissel in an internment camp on the Isle of Man. Once released, they were introduced to cellist Martin Lovett and formed the Amadeus Quartet. The ensemble would go on to become one of the most important string quartets of the 20th century, remarkable in particular for keeping its original line-up right from its 1948 premiere at London’s Wigmore Hall, through to its disbandment in 1987 following Schidlof’s death.

Kim Kashkashian, the Grammy Award-winning Armenian-American violist, also played on the viola.

The ‘Schidlof’ is a very fine and remarkably-preserved instrument from Bergonzi’s later years, it features a handsomely figured back in two pieces of maple with original wings and varnish of an orange-brown colour on a lighter ground.

‘Sleeping Beauty’

Cello by Domenico Montagnana,
Cremona, 1739

The ‘Sleeping Beauty’ received its name after it lay silent and unused for almost a century at the Berkeley Castle owned by the Fitzharding family.

Famously played on by Gregor Piatigorsky from 1939–1951, one of the greatest string players of the 20th century. Piatigorsky first came by the ‘Sleeping Beauty’ in 1939, during a visit to the W. E. Hill & Sons workshop in London with Ernest B. Dane, a wealthy patron of the arts from Boston. Dane noticed the affinity that the famous cellist had with the instrument and the very same day purchased it and gifted it to him.

Since then, Orlando Cold, a founding member of the Curtis String Quartet, and Henrich Schiff, a multiple award-winning soloist, have also played on the ‘Sleeping Beauty’. In 2011 J & A Beare sold the cello on behalf of Henrich Schiff.

‘Krasner’

Viola by Gasparo da Saló,
Cremona, 1580

This viola is one of the finest masterpieces of the Brescian school.

The instrument is named after Ukrainian-born violinist, Louis Krasner. The soloist is particularly remembered for his work with contemporary composers; he also commissioned and premiered Alban Berg’s violin concerto in 1935. Krasner owned the viola which subsequently passed into the hands of renowned collector Dr David Fulton. Beare’s eventually sold it on Fulton’s behalf in 2013.