GiveBack: a violin by Giovanni Pistucci, Naples, c. 1930

A spirited violin from Giovanni Pistucci, a leader in the Neapolitan school, presented as part of GiveBack, a special benefit auction supporting musicians around the world who have been affected by COVID-19.

By Jason Price April 21, 2020

This spirited violin by Giovanni Pistucci dating from c. 1930 is made as a copy of Raffaele and Antonio Gagliano and labeled as such. The model is a typical Gagliano pattern with square, parallel C-bouts, short lower corners and ample, rounded bouts. The maple on the back is cut partially on the slab, which yields soft but regular flame patterns not unlike those seen on instruments by Raffaele and Antonio. The label, almost certainly original to the instrument and added by the maker, is a facsimile of Raffaele and Antonio.

The front of this violin is particularly animated with the treble soundhole a full 3 mm lower than the bass. The diameters of the upper and lower holes are nearly the same. The stems are graceful and flowing but give the impression of being hastily finished, as do the wings, which are scooped with a single gouge stroke and then scraped or sanded to blend. The notches are exceptionally small and set to a correct stop-length of 195 mm irrespective of their position on the soundhole itself.

The blacks of the purfling are narrow strips of dyed fiber, either a plant husk or a dyed cellulose paper. This is a common feature of many Neapolitan instruments since the late 18th century. The black fiber strands appear fine and slender, giving the purfling sharp definition. The middle strip in Neapolitan purfling is typically made of beech.

The internal linings are also made of beech and are hastily trimmed. The corner blocks are made of spruce.

Perhaps the most capricious element of this instrument is its scroll. Here, the maker has interpreted a typical Neapolitan model with a surprising free-wheeling spontaneity. When viewed from the front, the two halves of the volute are remarkably asymmetrical. The back of the scroll is deeply fluted and hastily scraped, and the general impression is one of rustic and compelling charm.

The maker has interpreted a typical Neapolitan model with a surprising free-wheeling spontaneity

The varnish is a rich yellow-brown color set on a golden ground, similar to that used by Raffaele and Antonio. Like many fine Neapolitan instruments there is a distinctive undertone of olive-brown in the ground.

Giovanni Pistucci C-bout

This violin was sold in our May 2020 GiveBack auction for $29,500. All commissions went to musicians affected by COVID-19.

Subscribe to the Cozio Archive

Over 12,000 instruments and bows by 3,000 different makers

Over 200,000 photographs

Certificates and other documents

Detailed provenance information

Browse the Cozio Archive

210,000+ Photographs

36,000+ Instruments & Bows

3,500+ Violin & Bow Makers

11,000+ Historical Owners

57,000+ Auction Results

14,000+ Certificates & Documents


You already have a Tarisio account. Please login to continue.

Forgot Password



Please register or ​to continue.



Please register or ​to continue.

We have sent you an email.
Please follow the link to confirm your registration.


Create Your Password

Click the button below and we'll email you a link to generate your Tarisio password.