The back and front views of the violin to the left of this plate are taken from the " Alard" Stradivarius, so called from the famous violinist who formerly owned it. It is one of the finest violins made by Stradivarius, and bears the date "1715, thus belonging to his great period, which is considered by connoisseurs to have extended from about 17o0 to 1725. The following is the brief history of the Alard Stradivarius: Bought in Florence early in the nineteenth century by a banker of Courtrai in Belgium, it passed at his death into the possession of the late J. B. Vuillaume of Paris, a famous violin-maker and expert. Vuillaume reserved it for his son-in-law, Mr. Delphin Alard, professor of the violin at the Paris Conservatoire, and of European reputation as a virtuoso, in whose possession it remained until he retired from public life in 1876. It was then acquired by Mr. David Laurie of Glasgow.
It is a Stradivarius of the "grand" form, and of a very handsome model, the arching of the belly and back being of exquisite proportions, neither exaggerated nor weak. The workmanship is between the earlier and later styles of the master. A careful choice of the wood is of course presupposed, but the fine regular marking of the back may be observed, and also the beautiful color and quality of the varnish. The neck is original, as it left the hands of Stradivarius; it has, however, been lengthened by a piece added at its junction with the upper block of the body. The letters P.S., which are sometimes found on Stradivari violins at the peg-box end of the neck when it is original, are here very distinct. These enigmatical letters have given rise to some discussion among experts, but the conclusion appears to be that they are the initials of Stradivari's youngest son, Paolo, through whose hands the instruments may have passed. Paolo was a cloth merchant, not a violinmaker, but he succeeded to his father's house after the decease of his brothers.
The "King Joseph" Guarnerius del Gesfi violin (del Gesu on account of his signing his violins with the device j j£s ), and of which back and front views appear to the right of the plate, is presented for comparison with the no less fine specimen of Stradivarius. The differences in the construction of the instruments of these famous makers are, to the practised eye, considerable. In general, the violins of Guarneri are smaller than those of Stradivari. There is a marked difference observable in the outlines of the two makers, the Stradivarius being somewhat square in the shoulders, in the C's, or inward curvings of the sides of a violin which resemble that letter, and in the lower part, while all those features in the Guarnerius are more curved. The head of the latter is bolder, less symmetrical and quaintly original.
The "f's," the sound-holes in violins assuming the form of that letter as an italic, which are beautifully curved by Stradivarius, are by Guarnerius often sharply pointed at top and bottom. It might be expected that this peculiarity of the "f's" would be detrimental to the artistic effect, but it is not. The arching of the belly and back are with Guarnerius less marked than with Stradivarius. Generally speaking, Guarnerius left his bellies thicker than those of Stradivarius. As may be expected, there is a decided difference in tone between a Guarnerius del Gesu and a Stradivarius. Dr. William Huggins makes this interesting comparison: "The Stradivarius possesses, as a rule, a brighter tone with unlimited capacity for expressing the most varied accents of feeling, 'welling forth like a spring' (says Dr. Joachim) 'and capable of infinite modifications under the bow.' The tone of Guarnerius has intense individuality, it is powerful and somewhat contralto in quality, with a superb mellow richness strongly tinged with melancholy."
A Tourte bow, mounted with gold, tortoiseshell and mother-of pearl, is shown in the same plate.
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TEXT and IMAGE CREDIT: Famous composers and their music, Volume 1 Famous composers and their music, Theodore Thomas. Editors Theodore Thomas, John Knowles Paine, Karl Klauser. Publisher: Merrill, 1901. Original from: Princeton University. Digitized: Aug 11, 2008. Subjects: Music › Musical Instruments › Piano & Keyboard, Biography & Autobiography / Composers & Musicians, Composers, Music, Music / Musical Instruments / Piano & Keyboard, Piano music. +sookie tex