Image of a violin, the1729 Guarneri del Gesù violin

1729 Guarneri del Gesù violin

Famed luthier Bartolomeo Giuseppe Antonio Guarneri del Gesù made this violin in Cremona, Italy in 1729. It is characteristic of the maker's work during this period, and has an outstanding tonal quality.

Guarneri is known as del Gesù ("of Jesus") because his labels incorporated the nomina sacra, I.H.S. (iota-eta-sigma) and a Roman cross. His instruments diverged significantly from family tradition, becoming uniquely his own style. They are considered equal in quality to those of Stradivari—and some people claim them to be superior. Guarneri's violins often have a darker, more robust, and more sonorous tone than those of Stradivari. Fewer than 200 of Guarneri's instruments survive.

In 1986, Gordon Jeffrey—a great patron of music and scion of the family that founded London Life Insurance Company—bequeathed this violin to the University of Western Ontario. An anonymous donor purchased it in 1997.

The instrument has a one piece back that was cut on the slab and displays a faint figure while the ribs display broad figure. The two piece top is of a medium grain and the varnish is a reddish brown colour.

Donor: Anonymous loan
Acquired: 1998
Value: $6 million


Past winners:

1998 - 2003 Martin Beaver (Cockeysville, Maryland)
2003 - 2006 Yi-Jia Suzanne Hou (Mississauga, Ontario)
2006 - 2009 Yi-Jia Susanne Hou (Mississauga, Ontario)
2009 - 2012 Nikki Chooi (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
2012 - 2015 Timothy Chooi (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
2015 - 2018 Blake Pouliot

Instruments and current winners