It has been a top-class concert instrument throughout its life. This violin was once owned and greatly appreciated by the renowned virtuosos Eugene Ysaÿe (1858-1931) and Isaac Stern (1920-2001).
Nippon Music Foundation: Ysaye Guarneri
In 1928, when the violin was being repaired by the luthier Joseph Hel of Lille, Ysaÿe asked for a label to be inserted, with the inscription "Ce Del Jesus fut le fidèle compagnone de ma vie" (this violin was the faithful companion of my life), which it still bears alongside the authentic undisturbed label of its maker.
Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesú, Carlos Chiesa, John Dilworth, Roger Graham Hargrave, Stewart Pollens, Duane Rosengard & Eric Wen, Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesú (2 volumes), London
"At the very start of his career, Ysaÿe had managed to acquire an excellent violin by J. B. Guadagnini (1711-1786). One day a lady came to see him with a request for lessons and he was immediately struck by the beauty of her violin. It was a Joseph Guarnerius del Gesu of the most beautiful period of this pupil of Stradivarius.
He asked the lady if she would lend him the instrument to take with him on his American tour and this she could hardly refuse in consideration of his guarantee to insure it against all accidents. But this was only part of the transaction, which must surely be unique in the annals of such negotiations. On his return, he would keep the Guarnerius, leaving her the Guadagnini and 40,000 francs . . . as well as his brother Théophile as her husband."
Ysaÿe, Antoine Ysaÿe, Ysaÿe, Great Missenden