Image of a violin, the 1768 Antonio Gragnani violin

1768 Antonio Gragnani violin

Antonio Gragnani made this violin. Gragnani worked in Livorno, Italy, an important Maritime and land trading centre beginning in the late 1500s. Although Antonio’s actual date of birth has not been discovered, there is documentation supporting his activities as a violin maker in the city from 1741 to 1799. This violin, bearing the original manuscript label, dates to 1768 and it is constructed on the “Amatese” model. Being full sized with slightly reduced proportions, the violin fits perfectly to a player with a smaller hand. Of particular note, the material used for the black of the purfling strips is whale bone rather than dyed wood. Whale bone gives a very clean and striking appearance to the whole outline—a highlight rarely found in Italian instruments, though more common to violins made in the Netherlands. Perhaps a connection can be made to the Netherlands on account Livorno’s status as a trading centre at the time of the violin’s construction.

The instrument has a two piece back that displays strong narrow figure descending from the the centre joint. The ribs are of a matching material and the scroll is made of a plain material. The two piece top is made of mostly medium width straight grain. The varnish is a golden brown over amber.

Donor: Anonymous loan
Acquired: 2017
Value: $160,000

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