Antonio Stradivari, Cremona, 1736, the 'Belle Skinner'

Small Violin: 40113

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original: "Antonius Stradivarius Cremonensis / Facie- bat Anno 1736"; the last three digits of the date are handwritten; and another label in manuscript: "D'Anni 92"

Back: One-piece back of maple with some figure at the bottom

Scroll: same wood as back

Ribs: same wood as back

Varnish: Reddish-brown

Length of back: 33.9 cm

Upper bouts: 15.3 cm

Middle bouts: 10.3 cm

Lower bouts: 19.2 cm


A three-quarter size violin. Label: "Antonius Stradivarius Cremonensis / Facie- bat Anno 1736." The last three digits of the date are handwritten and are followed by the trademark of Stradivari, the initials A.S. flanking a cross. The Yale Stradivari is an especially important example in the extant oeuvre of its maker for two reasons. First, a second inscription, "at the age of 92," proudly appended to the label by the master in his own handwriting is one of the documents by which his birth date is established. Second, it is notable among Stradivari's surviving instruments for the remarkable state of preservation of its original varnish.

"Interestingly, the soundholes and head are virtually full-sized. The violin is reminiscent of the 'Rode, Le Nestor' and the 'Tangye, Segelman', but shows finally that Antonio is losing full command. This can be seen in the purfling inlay which is inexact and the purfling mitres which lack the confident form seen earlier. . . The button, which is quite narrow and long, seems to have its original shape and a visible compass point in the middle. . . It is interesting to note that that the center line at the back of the peg box greatly deviates from the still visible scribe line and center compass points. . .

. . .Although the handwriting [of the labels with 'D'Anni 9x'] was commonly thought to be Stradivari's, current historians believe most of them to be that of Count Cozio di Salabue who wished to memorialize his theory of the maker's age on the Stradivaris in his collection. These inscriptions led to the determination by Hills that Stradivari was born in 1644, a conclusion which is not supported by archival documents."

Cremona 1730-1750: the Olympus of Violin Making, Consorzio Liutai Antonio Stradivari, Cremona, 2008

Cozio's notes: "Very small Stradivari. One-piece back with wide and unpronounced grain. The button is more than half a circle. The neck is good work, and the scroll is outlined. The top is well made with still intact good F-holes. Is has not been played. Purfling. New bass bar. One-piece sides. Thick varnish. Modified by Guadagnini. Original label, as like the others, made in 1730. Though I believe that it was made in 1736, when he was at the age of 92. It originally belonged to Mr. Boroni. Since 1823, it has had a place in the main collection." (p. 215-16)

Memoirs of a Violin Collector: Count Ignazio Alessandro Cozio di Salabue, Brandon Frazier, Baltimore, 2007

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Yale University, Belle Skinner, W. E. Hill & Sons, Alfred Sassoon, W. E. Hill & Sons, Marquis Provana, Count Cozio di Salabue, Paolo Stradivari

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