Violin, Antonio Gragnani, Livorno, 1779

Original printed label: “Antonius Gragnani fecit / Liburni Anno 1779” (9 handwritten)

Gragnani affixed an original printed label to this instrument and branded his initials on the button on the back and on the lower rib. At 36 cm, the violin model clearly exceeds the usual length. The luthier frequently based his work on Stradivari models, in this case possibly the long pattern of the Cremonese master. A comparison shows a very high degree of consistency with the contours of Stradivari’s 1694 “ex Benecke” violin. The position of the f-holes is also very similar. Only the cut of the upper and lower f-hole wings differs considerably from Stradivari’s design. Gragnani seems to have adopted elements that determine tonal properties from Stradivari but followed his own road in crafting the details and thus developed his personal signature. The belly has very regular, medium- to wide-grained annual rings. According to a dendrochronological analysis, the two halves of the belly were not taken from the same log. The youngest annual ring on both halves was dated 1766. The one-piece maple back features splendid, tight flaming with a shell figure that is similar to the flame pattern on the ribs. The arching is medium-high and merges into a smoothly continuous fluting channel ending at the edge. The elongated pegbox and slightly oval scroll with deeply cut volutes are typical of Gragnani’s style. A distinguishing feature of this violin is the light and very transparent varnish, much of which is still preserved. The excellent overall condition of the instrument highlights many details of workmanship, showcasing Gragnani’s skilled hand.  

Borrower: Teresa Wakolbinger