William Forster II was violin maker to the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Cumberland, hence his reputation as “Royal Forster”, the finest maker of the family dynasty. This viola made around 1780 is a fine and typical example of his work. The pattern shows a very high degree of observation of Jacob Stainer’s violas from the 1660s period with a characteristically low but bold arching that is very different from the cliched Stainer modelling copied by most London makers of the eighteenth century, and indicates first hand knowledge of Stainer’s work, as to be expected of so prominent a maker and dealer. Nonetheless, the 40cm model is of his own design which is long by comparison to most English violas of the period, and within the standards required for professional playing. The narrow body doesn’t seem to effect the tone of the instrument, and makes it a light and versatile instrument to play. Some minor varnish restorations, but overall in excellent condition.
An English Viola by William (Royal) Forster II, London circa 1780