St James Square in Piccadilly was home to a vibrant community of violin makers for much of the eighteenth century beginning with John Barrett who first arrived around 1714 at the Harp and Crown. From the 1720s Peter Wamsley was the major figure in the area, working at the Harp and Hautboy, a shop that passed on through two generations before being taken over by Thomas Smith. To a greater extent Smith’s work follows in the Wamsley tradition, and his work is characterised both by the chocolate brown varnish but also by such exquisitely painted on purfling that it seems both incongruous to the instrument as a whole, and as if it would have been less work to inlay it instead. The dark Cremonese-style pins on the back of the instrument are a good identifying mark for Smith’s work too. Although the Wamsley and Smith workshop is better known for it’s Stainer copies, I have seen one or two works by Smith that lead in other directions, of which this is an example. The model, whilst somewhat Stainer influenced is far more evocative of seventeenth-century English models, in some ways quite similar to examples by Edward Pamphilon.
Condition notes: The violin is in overall good condition with the exception of ancient worm damage on the bass side upper flank of the back of the violin. This has been grubbed out and filled centuries ago, and is both a solid and reliable repair. The violin is priced with a consideration for this damage.