Jacob Stainer, Absam, 1670, the 'Baron Knoop'

Viola: 40108

Original manuscript label dated 1670.

Back: of two piece maple with narrow to medium horizontal flame.

Top: of two piece spruce with narrow grain broadening slightly towards the flanks.

Scroll: of plainer maple.

Ribs: of similar wood.

Varnish: of a golden red color.

Length of back: 42.4 cm

Upper bouts: 20.2 cm

Middle bouts: 13.8 cm

Lower bouts: 24.5 cm


"The viola illustrated here may be well regarded as one of the most outstanding works of Jacobus Stainer. It is built on generous proportions, the body measuring 16-11/16 inches the width across upper bouts 7-15/16 and across the lower 9 Es inches. It bears the original manuscript label dated 1670, or about the time the master was at the zenith of his powers. The original varnish remains in plentiful state and is of a lovely golden recolor. The instrument came to English possession from a noble family of Hungary; about 1885 it was acquired by the late Baron Knoop, a collector of fine discrimination who in his time owned many fine instruments. It later passed to Hill & Sons and from them was purchased by Nathan E. Posner in 1924. The May 1925 edition of The Strad carried an article regarding the viola written by the late Towry Piper, accompanied by fine plates.In 1926, through the intermediary of John Friedrich & Bro., E. N. Doring sold the viola to Alexander J. Stuart, who was at that time a resident of Detroit. The instrument has since then changed hands and is in private possession at the time of this writing."

The Troubled Life of Jakob Stainer - Part IV, C. E. Mertzanoff, Violins & Violinists, December, 1943, Chicago


from 1885 Baron Johann Knoop
until 1924 W. E. Hill & Sons
in 1924 Sold by Nathan E. Posner
until 1926 Ernest N. Doring
from 1926 Alexander J. Stuart
in 1931 Oswald Schilbach
... ...
in 1943 C. E. Mertzanoff
... ...
in 1957 Alexander Mackay Smith
in 1961 Sold by Emil Herrmann, New York
- Gene Bearden
in 1991 Current owner

Known players

Robert Glazer


  • The Strad, 1925, Towry Piper, London, May 1925 (illustrated)
  • Journal of the Violin Society of America, Vol. IX, No. 1, Karl Roy, The Queens College Press, Flushing, NY (illustrated)
  • Jakob Stainer: Leben und Werk des Tiroler Meisters, Walter Senn & Karl Roy, Verlag E. Bochinsky, Frankfurt (illustrated)
  • The History of the Viola, Volume 2
  • The Jacques Français Rare Violins, Inc. Photographic Archive and Business Records, 1844-1998, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC (illustrated)
  • Violins & Violinists, December, 1943, C. E. Mertzanoff, William Lewis & Son, Chicago (illustrated)


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