Violin by Nicolò Amati, 1656

Tags: Nicolo Amati | violin

The son of Hieronymus Amati, Nicolò Amati was believed to be the best instrument maker in Cremona in the 1630s. Greatly admired by aspiring instrument makers of the time, he at one point took in at least 16 apprentices, including Andrea Guarneri, Francesco Ruggeri, and Antonio Stradivari, all of whom later became exceptional masters in the development of the modern violin. Under Nicolò’s skill and guidance, the Amati family’s instrument making style gradually expanded to more luthiers, with the Amati measurements of the instruments’ various parts and materials becoming widespread standards in violin making.

At the age of 24, Nicolò took over his father’s instrument making business, and modified the instrument by lengthening the neck of the violin, increasing the volume abilities, and slightly elongating the body, making it remarkably similar to the violin today. It can be said that it was Nicolò who began setting the standard size of the violin. In addition, Nicolò was particular about the selection of vanish and wood for his instruments, sticking to the belief that not only is the violin an instrument that delivers good sound, but a work of art as well. It was in Nicolò’s hands that the reputation of the Amati family far surpassed that of their contemporaries in Brescia.

The violin, with a body length of 35.4cm (approx. 13.9in), was completed in 1656. Nicolò’s greatest achievement after the 1650s was to modify the violin size into the grand pattern, as illustrated by the construction of this violin. A finely preserved instrument, the piece has a clear and pure timbre, fresh like the morning sun. In addition, the instrument holds a special place in the history of violin. It became the starting point for Nicolò’s many apprentices, including masters Guarneri and Stradivari, as they continued to advance the fine art of violin making. This precious instrument was acquired by Chi Mei in 1991.




Text and images are provided by Music Digital Archives Center, National Taiwan Normal University (Digital Violin Archive Project of Chi Mei Museum)