A fine English Violin by Henry Jay, London circa 1760

Henry Jay worked on Long Acre, in Covent Garden, close to Conduit Court where Thomas Chippendale had his workshop. This may be more than simple coincidence, as Jay’s instruments are amongst the most fastidiously worked examples of late eighteenth-century violin making, showing many of the elements of craftsmanship that were common to Chippendale’s own sense of quality and putting them above most of his contemporaries.

Jay probably trained with Peter Wamsley in Piccadilly, for some of his Stainer-inspired instruments are made to near-identical models, but the majority of his work follows a Cremonese influence, mostly following Amati but some rare examples indicate a Stradivari influence. A characteristic of Jay’s work is to leave the upper corners slightly short and to extend the lower corners proportionately, something that is particularly attractive on his violoncellos and present in this instrument, giving a Bergonzi-like squareness to the upper half of the instrument. Overall the model is strikingly close to Stradivari’s work of circa 1680 with the same blend of a low Amatise arching and stridently angular Stradivarian soundholes. It is impressively reminiscent of the 1679 “Hellier” for these reasons.

A very strong and beautiful sounding violin, suitable for professional use.

Length of Back: 358mm
Upper Bout: 165mm
Middle Bout: 113mm
Lower Bout: 203mm

The 1679 “Hellier” by Antonio Stradivari and the Henry Jay, showing similar styling in the soundholes, along with the arching suggesting the violin was strongly influenced by a Stradivari of about the 1680 period.

Condition notes: Sold with the certificate of Benjamin Hebbert Violins Limited. The  violin has a label obscured by dirt and illegible which is consistent with an original label. The scroll has been re-cheeked on both sides, with a dark discoloured varnish over the entire scroll and on the heel of the neck graft, raising questions about the scroll. It is in my opinion genuine, but badly compromised. The body of the violin is in an excellent state of preservation and characteristic for the maker.