Home Classical Music THE SCOOP | For Sale: The Empress Caterina Stradivari, A Violin With A Distinctive Historical past

THE SCOOP | For Sale: The Empress Caterina Stradivari, A Violin With A Distinctive Historical past

THE SCOOP | For Sale: The Empress Caterina Stradivari, A Violin With A Distinctive Historical past


The Empress Caterina violin by Antonio Stradivari (Photos courtesy of Tarisio Fine Instruments & Bows)
The Empress Caterina violin by Antonio Stradivari (Images courtesy of Tarisio Superb Devices & Bows)

The Empress Caterina, a violin crafted by Antonio Stradivari in 1708 throughout his so-called Golden Interval, is arising for public sale on June 8, 2023. Tarisio Superb Devices & Bows of New York will public sale the uncommon violin on-line, with a provenance that may be established going again nearly three centuries.

A storied provenance

The violin has an extended historical past, a few of it anecdotal, that spans a turbulent interval of Russian historical past and crosses paths with quite a few bigger than life characters.

The violin first seems in official information in 1898 as property of W.E. Hill & Sons. Alfred Hill visited Russia in 1898, and catalogued the collections of Prince Youssapoff. Youssapoff, aka Felix Felixovich Yusupov, is legendary for having been one in all Rasputin’s assassins, in addition to marrying Tsar Nicholas II’s niece, the Princess Irina Alexandrovna.

He was additionally extraordinarily rich, and owned a large assortment of devices. Amongst them, Hill was documented as having “introduced again intelligence regarding the existence of 16 extra devices that have been unknown to us earlier than”. The Empress Caterina of 1708 was one of many beforehand unrecorded 16 violins; Hill bought the instrument for the corporate and introduced it again with a narrative.

A visit by Russian historical past

In response to Hill’s account within the firm information, the instrument had handed by the palms of the Russian ambassador to Venice, who’d purchased it for Empress Elisabeth Petrovna. Empress Petrovna, who dominated Russia from 1741 till she died in 1762, was a lot beloved, partly for her refusal to execute a single particular person throughout her reign.

After she died, the violin was handed alongside to Catherine the Nice, who succeeded her as empress. Catherine II supported the humanities and Western beliefs. Adrian Moïsevitch Gribovsky served as Cupboard Secretary over the last 12 months of Catherine’s reign, a person who was generally known as a literary author in addition to a public servant. He was additionally a lover of music together with his personal orchestra. He usually performed the Stradivarius himself.

Gribovsky, because it turned out, was additionally keen on gaming, and was not afraid to make use of state funds to finance his interest. After Catherine II’s loss of life, he was dismissed in shame. When he died in 1834, the instrument went to his son-in-law, Vasily Yakovlevich Guberti, the place it passes into obscurity for a time period earlier than ending up with Prince Youssapoff within the late nineteenth century.

From Russian royalty to musicians to collectors

As soon as he had it again in London, Hill’s firm offered the instrument on February 16, 1899 for £650 to Mrs. Marie Douglas Stothert, a French violinist. She was famous as a virtuosic participant — with a rich engineer for a husband. Stothert traded the Caterina again into Hills 12 years later for the 1714 “Dolphin” Stradivari. Hills offered the Caterina once more a few months later to French violinist Henri Belville.

After a couple of extra collectors purchased and offered it, in 1982 it ended up within the possession of German-Italian industrialist Giorgio Feige. It’s his property that’s now promoting the violin at public sale.

Stradivari’s Golden Interval

The instrument comes from Stradivari’s Golden Interval, typically acknowledged as stretching from 1700 to 1720. At this level, he turned away from the Lengthy Sample interval, and produced extra standard-sized devices.

He was profitable sufficient to amass premium supplies akin to Alpine spruce, which is usually credited for its uniquely dense development in harsh circumstances. He’d honed and improved his methods over time by trial and error. Stradivari’s distinctive use of assorted woods and varnishes is even now being studied by scientists searching for clues to his genius.

Tiny samples from the Empress Caterina, crafted in maple and spruce, have been taken and analyzed, together with cross-referencing with different identified devices of the realm and interval, with a number of vital matches. The violin is reported to be in glorious taking part in situation, with authentic major elements, and the unique label.

It’s the primary time a Golden Interval instrument has come up on the market in about 15 years, and the acquisition consists of a number of certificates of provenance.

No official estimates have been introduced, nonetheless Tarisio has a repute for buying high greenback for Stradivari devices, together with the Stradivari report of $15.9 million USD for the 2011 sale of the Girl Blunt violin.

On-line bidding begins on June 8.


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