An outstanding viola by the greatest of all makers working outside of Italy.


Jacob Stainer is regarded as the greatest of all makers working outside of Italy. There is continual debate as to whether he crossed the Alps to study with Amati, but certainly his earliest acknowledged works show a very close relationship with Cremonese masters of the time, although his style rapidly developed. It is not known how many violas by Stainer survive, buta generous estimate might be in the region of twenty. This example made in the 1660s must rank as the finest, retaining much of the fragile deep-brown varnish that had washed off most of Stainer’s instruments before the end of the eighteenth-century. The wear patterns to the back show how it was played across the body using a strap, and such is the purity of the instrument that they have remained undisturbed. The viola is a ‘tenore’ size, retaining its original dimensions which are too large and too deep in the ribs for serious sustained professional use.  We were delighted to broker the sale of this highly significant instrument to a prominent North American institution. It will now join two Stradivari violins and a Vuillaume cello for regular use in a string quartet.