"A sale held in London in 1862 of the Stradivarius owned by collector Count Castelbarco of Milan listed and sold two cellos, two violins, and a viola "transformed from a viol". The latter instrument was in fact designed and made by Stradivari as a viola d'amore. It was converted into a viola by J B Vuillaume, removing the orginal flat back and replacing it with a new swell back, in keeping with Stradivari's style.
The instrument was originally made with sloping shoulders, which were cut to form the conventional viola shape, while the ribs were lowered by around 15 mm. It now has a beautiful 'Brothers' Amati head, with a heavy blackened chamfer no doubt added by Vuillaume to give a more Stradivarian feeling. Fortunately the original viola d'amore head, which accomodates 12 pegs, found its way to the Museé de la Musique in Paris, where it was identified by Charles Beare."
Cremona Fiddles, Charles Reade, Pall Mall Gazette, London
"It was in fact designed and made by Stradivari as a viola d'amore and the work involved in converting it into a viola included removing the original flat back and replacing it with a new swell back which is highly figured and sylistically in keeping with the table. . . .
The original viola d'amore head, which is now housed at the Musée de la Musique in Paris along with other pieces from Vuillaume's workshop, is of an interesting and compact design made to accommodate twelve pegs. . . ."
One of a kind, David Rattray, The Strad, January, 1997, London