Matteo Goffriller, Venice, 1700


Violin: 44193

Bearing a facsimile label by Hills: "Mattio Goffriller fece in Venetia Anno 1700."

Back: One-piece cut on the slab

Top: of pine of broad grain

Scroll: of medium curl

Ribs: of faint medium curl, cut on the quarter

Varnish: Orange-red

Length of back: 35.4 cm


Notes:

" You were going to tell us, Mr. Remenyi, how you discovered your Titan Stradivarius in Grahamstown.' Certainly. I was concerting in Grahamstown in September, 1887. Among my visitors were Dr. Guybon Atherstone, an old colonist and a scientific man. During our conversation, after inspecting my Lupot and my Joseph Guarnerius, he mentioned that he had inherited from his uncle, Edwin Atherstone, two violins, one a Joseph Guarnerius (called the Giant) and the other a Stainer. I could not understand how it was possible that such gems could be in Grahamstown without being noticed. There were no strings on either of the violins. I took out first the Guarnerius, and I stared at it in amazement, at its perfect workmanship. The second violin is also beautiful, but in the presence of the Giant it is simply childlike. The Doctor then, in the most ordinary way, remarked that there was another violin in the room, and asked me to examine all three instruments while he went away a few minutes to attend a patient. So I remained alone with three violins, one of which I had not yet seen. I opened the second case quite negligently, and without any feeling of awe or expectation. There was a kind of silk rag thrown over a violin -- that was all. I lifted the rag—for rag it was —and there in the case was lying a violin without any strings, and to the best of my recollection there were only two pegs in the scroll. At the first glance I saw that a grand seigneur was lying there unnoticed, like a Venus of Milo on the outside by-roads. I scarcely dared to touch it, it was such a sacred sight, and most certainly I did not know whether I was wide awake or in dreamland. I touched myself again, and then I looked at my watch and asked myself if my name was Remenyi, and if I was not dreaming, and not at Dr. Atherstone's house and concertising in Grahamstown. After many such questions I took the violin out of its case. I had given up hope of ever coming across such a treasure. But now I had in my hand the much dreamed of and much coveted instrument. And all this in Grahamstown in South Africa ! I scarcely could believe it. On arriving at home with the grand fiddles I at once set to work. I proceeded very slowly, as the violins having had no pressure on them for many years, I was obliged to be very cautious. When I tuned up the Giant Guarnerius and the coming Titan Stradivarius, instead of two minutes it took me an hour. At last the violin was in perfect order. I resigned first on the Giant. It had a lovely grand tone. Then with the greater expectation I tried the Titan Stradivarius, the virginal. Its tone was extraordinary -- so sweet and so powerful that the Giant was put in the shade completely. I never will part with him at any price. Five thousand pounds sterling would not tempt me any more than £5 and the word " priceless " exactly describes the value of the violin. It has but one drawback. The Titan puts all my other excellent violins, of which I have thirty, so completely in the shade that I never play on any of them, whereas before I found the Titan I used four or five of them during a fortnight or three weeks, and sometimes three of them at a concert. Now Titan does all the work, and he is strong enough for any emergency. Until now, speaking metaphorically, I killed every violin ; now the Titan kills me. I hope he will have a good time until he succeeds completely."

M. Remenyi and his Violins, The Strad, 1891, London

Provenance

- James Goding
- Edwin Atherstone
- Dr Guybon Atherstone
- Darter
until 1948 W. E. Hill & Sons
from 1948 Current owner

Certificates & Documents

  • Certificate: W. E. Hill & Sons, London (1948) States that the sound holes have been slightly modified.
  • Letter: W. E. Hill & Sons, London (1948) "At about the middle of the last century, it [the violin] was in the hands of a Mr. Goding of Belgrave Square, London, who possessed an important collection of Italian instruments. At that time this violin was attributed to Joseph Guarnerius and was said to have been called 'The Giant' by Paganini. There is no documentary evidence of this and we incline to the opinion that the attribution was given to it for some ulterior motive by a dealer of those times who was responsible for having somewhat altered the sound holes to resemble those of Joseph Guarnerius. . . . The violin was known to the Hungarian player Edouard Remenyi of Budapest who in a letter dated 1887, refers to it as having a tone of exceptional volume from which feature it had no doubt been named 'The Giant'."
  • Letter: M. E. Athersone (1889) Addressed to W. G. Athersone, M.D.
  • Letter: Carl Walther, Grahamstown (1888) Addressed to Mr. Bidwell.
  • Letter: Edward Remery, Grahamstown (1887) To Dr. Guyton Atherstone.

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, 1891, London, Oct 1891
  • Sotheby's Important Musical Instruments Auction Catalog, June 16, 1977, London, Sotheby's, Sotheby's, London (illustrated)
  • W. E. Hill & Sons Photographic Archive (illustrated)

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