Nicolò Amati, Cremona, c. 1630, the 'Vatican Stradivari'


Cello: 49233

Labeled, "Antonio Stradivari. . ."

Originally made as a six string viol. Enlarged to the upper and lower bouts. The ribs presumably made by Georges Chanot of Paris. Inscribed to the inside back and top, "Reparé par Chanot, 1863." Decorated.

Back: in two-pieces of maple with small irregular flame ascending from the centre-joint, adjusted in the upper bouts and extended in the lower bouts.

Top: in four pieces of spruce with medium width grain. Expanded at the lower bouts and adjusted in the upper bouts.

Scroll: originally fitted for six strings.

Ribs: not original presumably made by Georges Chanot of Paris.

Length of back: 74.1 cm

Upper bouts: 34.2 cm

Middle bouts: 22.4 cm

Lower bouts: 41.9 cm

There is 1 additional image in the archive which is not available publicly. Please contact us for more information.


Notes:

""The cello is the third partner in this piece," Glass said, taking the richly resonant instrument out of its case. Built in 1620 by Nicolo Amati, it began life as a viola da gamba. Amati's prize student, Antonio Stradivari, transformed it into the bigger, more modern instrument, which then spent a century participating in performances in the Sistine Chapel.

The 19th-century French luthier Georges Chanot put the finishing touches on the expansion, then covered his tracks with gorgeous filigree and paintings of two angels with tambourine and harp. The instrument has been used by a few cellists in orchestras (even, for a time, the New York Philharmonic), but it has never been associated with a famous virtuoso. Sutter sees an opening.

"It has an incredible bass end," she observed. "It also has a bright sound and can carry in a hall of 3,000 people. It's like driving a Ferrari."

"To think," Glass said, "400 years later! There's some kind of Dracula thing going on with this cello of eternal youth. It's always ready to play a new piece."

Its allure has proven so irresistible to him that he's contemplating two more works for Sutter to perform on it. But the instrument had a high price: $650,000.

Glass has formed a corporation of 10 shares to purchase it. Half the shares have been sold; Glass bought one himself. "It's like owning part of a company," he said. "They aren't making more of these. The value has got to go up.""


"One of the cases housed a treasure: the "Ex Vatican," a viola da gamba built by Nicolò Amati in 1620 and later adapted as a cello by Stradivari. For 100 years it was played by papal musicians in the Sistine Chapel. In the 19th century, a French violin maker painted two angels on the front, lending the instrument the look of a beauty queen with biker tattoos on her collarbones.|

Provenance

in 1790 Sold by Luigi Tarisio
... ...
1810 - 1880 Lorillards Family
... ...
in 1921
- N. D. Hawkins
in 1974 Harriet Curtis Flower
... ...
in 2008 Larry J. Rawdon
in 2010 Anonymous
from 2014 Current owner

Known players

Wendy Sutter

Certificates & Documents

  • Certificate: Peter Biddulph, London (2014)
  • Certificate: John & Arthur Beare, London (2008)
  • Letter certificate: Carl Becker & Son, Chicago, IL (1974) "originally made as a six-stringed bass viol by Nicolaus Amati"
  • Letter certificate: John Friedrich & Bro. (photocopy), New York, NY (1921) ascribes the cello to Antonius Stradivarius
  • Letter certificate: Victor S. Fletcher (photocopy) (1921) ascribes the cello to Antonius Stradivarius
  • Certificate: Emil Herrmann (photocopy)
  • Letter: Philip Glass

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 Jacques Français Rare Violins, Inc. Photographic Archive and Business Records, 1844-1998, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC (illustrated)

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