Andrea Amati, Cremona, c. 1560, the 'Witten'


Viola: 40043

Labeled, "Andreas Amati fecit Cremonen 1553."

Back: Two-piece of relatively narrow curl at the top and medium curl at the bottom, and bearing a gilt monogram surmounted by a marquis coronet on a light-blue ground surrounded by the motto, also decorated with gilt fleur-de-lys in the corners

Top: of spruce, narrow-grained in the center and widening towards the edges

Scroll: of faint medium curl; scroll is original, but not the peg box

Ribs: of medium curl inscribed in gilt with the same motto

Varnish: Orange; the belly varnish has been restored

Length of back: 40.6 cm

Upper bouts: 18.5 cm

Middle bouts: 13.1 cm

Lower bouts: 23.9 cm

There are 4 additional images in the archive which are not available publicly. Please contact us for more information.


Notes:

"Part of a set of instruments prepared for an unidentified Italian noble. Originally a tenor viola, the instrument has been considerably reduced in both width and length."

Capolavari di Andrea Amati, Charles Beare, Bruce Carlson & Andrea Mosconi, Capolavori di Andrea Amati, Cremona


"Described and illustrated in "The Strad" in March 1925, pp. 705 & 706 and in August 1959, pp. 118 & 119. The instrument has been reduced in size with the resulting loss of part of the motto, an approximate translation of which would be 'religion stands firm and will continue to stand on one (sure) defence'. It has unfortunately proved impossible to conclusively identify the person for whom Andrea Amati made this viola beyond saying that he must have been a member of a noble Italian family of the rank of marquis."

Sotheby's Important Musical Instruments Auction Catalog, November 5, 1981, London, Sotheby's, Sotheby's Important Musical Instruments Auction Catalog, November 5, 1981, London, London


"There is no label."

The surviving instruments of Andrea Amati, Laurence C. Witten II, Early Music


"I don't know if the Museum is aware of it, but the varnish on the front is all by us."

Guided Tour through the Shrine to Music's Galleries, Charles Beare, Journal of the Violin Society of America, Vol. XII, No. 2, Flushing, NY


This viola bears a motto on the ribs, QVO VNICO PROPVGNACVLO STAT STABITQVE RELIGIO, "by this one bulwark religion stands and will stand." For many years scholars have searched for this motto as that of an individual, but in light of the surviving viola in Paris with the same motto and combined armorials of Phillip II and the Valois family, it was more likely made for the marriage of the Spanish king and the daughter of the French king, unifying the great French catholic royal courts against the incursions of Protestantism. The remains of the original armorial of King Phillip partially remain toward the edges of the current central painting on the back, which may be the monogram of his sister-in-law Marguerite of Valois. The viola was cut down in size in the 19th century, while preserving the original corners in the new outline.

Andrea Amati viola; Shrine to Music Museum

Provenance

- Sold by W. E. Hill & Sons
in 1922 Charles B. Lutyens
- Tom Barber, Jr.
until 1959 E. R. Voigt
- Hope Hambourg
1981 - 1982 John & Arthur Beare
1982 - 1984 Laurence C. Witten
from 1984 Shrine to Music, National Music Museum, South Dakota

Certificates & Documents

  • Certificate: W. E. Hill & Sons, London (1912)

Cozio holds copies of many certificates and other documents, some of which are available to view on request. Please contact us if you wish to view a particular document. (Note that we do not always have permission to share documents.)

References

  • The Strad 1997 Calendar, Orpheus Publications, London (illustrated)
  • Andrea Amati Opera omnia: Les Violons du Roi, Fausto Cacciatori, editor, Consorzo Liutai Antonio Stradivari, Cremona (illustrated)
  • Andrea Amati viola; Shrine to Music Museum
  • Capolavori di Andrea Amati, Charles Beare, Bruce Carlson & Andrea Mosconi, Ente Triennale Internazionale Degli Strumenti, Cremona (illustrated)
  • Christie's Musical Instruments Auction Catalog, June 23, 1959, London, Christie's, Christie's, London (illustrated)
  • Four Centuries of Violin Making: Fine Instruments from the Sotheby's Archive, Sotheby's, Sotheby's, Boston (illustrated)
  • Journal of the Violin Society of America, Vol. XII, No. 2, Charles Beare, The Queens College Press, Flushing, NY
  • The Strad, November, 1981, Robert Lewin, London (illustrated)
  • Luthiers Library (illustrated)
  • Sotheby's Important Musical Instruments Auction Catalog, November 5, 1981, London, Sotheby's, Sotheby's, London (illustrated)
  • Sotheby's Photo Archive
  • The History of the Viola, Volume II, Maurice W. Riley (illustrated)
  • Early Music, Laurence C. Witten II, October, 1982
  • Journal of the Violin Society of America, Vol. VIII, No. 3, Margaret Downie Banks, The Queens College Press, Flushing, NY (illustrated)
  • The Strad, 1925, Arthur Broadley, London, March (illustrated)

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