George Craske

A fine violin by George Craske, Birmingham circa 1840.

One of the finest violins by George Craske that I have seen in a long time, the overall design harks back to the later period of Stradivari’s long-pattern in the second half of the 1690s. However, mannerisms in the soundholes,…

 

George Craske

A fine violin by George Craske, Bath, circa 1820 after Stradivari

This is a rare example of George Craske’s work, from his early period in Bath, made around 1820 or slightly before. The model is very close to the Stradivari violin of his patron Sir Patrick Blake (bequeathed to him in 1815 by J.P. Salomon, and sold following Blake’s death in 1819). The narrow pattern is Stradiari’s shorter long pattern, exemplified by violins such as the ‘Baron Knoop’ of 1698.

 

George Craske

A fine violin by George Craske, Snow's Hill, circa 1835 after Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesu

After Craske’s legendary meeting with Paganini in 1832, he moved towards making Guarneri inspired violins, of which this is an early example. The instrument is made to his standard enlarged form, with characteristic flat arching and stylised del Gesu soundholes. The violin is unusual for having a scroll made by Craske, who later abandoned head carving in favour of buying in ready-made parts. A very fine and characteristic example with a strong and powerful tone.

 

Perry & Wilkinson

An Irish violin by Perry & Wilkinson, Dublin 1824.

Although Perry & Wilkinson were closely associated with both Richard Tobin and Vincenzo Panormo during their periods in Dublin, Perry & Wilkinson’s work tends to be predictable and formulaic adopting a flat arched model. In the 1820s there is a sudden revival in their work, with delicate Amatise instruments appearing. Although Richard Tobin moved to London around 1810 and remained there, the cause of this change in Irish making appears to be accountable to him. Perhaps he returned briefly to Dublin, or an associate travelled between the two cities. Whichever way, these late Perry & Wilkinson instruments compare strongly to Tobin’s London work, and are some of the finest instruments built on classical models to come out of Ireland.

 

Bela Szepessy

A fine Anglo-Hungarian violin by Szepessy Bela, London 1889

Bela Szepessy came to London in 1881 becoming one of the most influential London makers of his time. His apprenticeship had taken him through the great workshops of central Europe – Engleder in Munich, Nemessanyi in Budapest and Zach in Vienna. His most celebrated violins are finely observed interpretations of Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesu, of which this is an example, and retains many of the characteristics of the finest central European craftsmanship. A very fine and clear sounding violin in excellent condition.

 

Gareth Ballard

A fine contemporary violin by Gareth Ballard after Giuseppe Guarneri 'del Gesu', London 2010.

The “Ole Bull” of 1744 is one of the most characteristic of ‘del Gesu’s’ late violins, made in his last year. There is some speculation that it was made – at least in part – by his wife, Katarina owing to elements of style shared with a small number of instruments from the end of “del Gesu’s” lifetime including the posthumously dated 1745 “Leduc”. Whilst the eccentric-shaped sound-holes provide the violin with an instantly familiar form, the overall architecture is restrained and well controlled. Violins to this model tend to produce an even tone moving towards a seductive dark intensity in the lower registers. Gareth’s violin is not a literal copy of the “Ole Bull”, forfeiting the wildly idiosyncratic nature of the original for a more controlled and artistic approach to the underlying design, with excellent results.

 

Steffen Nowak

A fine contemporary violin by Steffen Nowak, Bristol, 2014.

I’ve known Steffen since my first days in the violin trade, and have admired the respect that he has earned for his instruments. Steffen’s work is certainly amongst the cleanest that I have seen, and his aim is always to make instruments to look as they would have appeared when they were first made. His attention to craftsmanship, and especially his passion for sound produce some very enjoyable instruments to play. This viola is based on an original, made by Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesu around 1735. As his instruments age naturally over time, I think they will come to be considered amongst the classics of contemporary British making.