An Undisputed Cremonese Master

Giuseppe Guarneri "Del Gesu", arguably the only violin maker in history, to rival the legendary Antonio Stradivarius and at his best, even surpassing this celebrated master.

Thanks to the Guarneri Del Gesu exhibition, which took place at the New York Metropolitan museum of art in 1994, and the subsequent 2 Vol. publication by Peter Biddolph, we as modern makers now have access to a wealth of high quality information, on no less than 25 instruments, by this giant of violin makers.

Kemp copy in the white Per Ovesen Violin Maker

I will over the course of the next many month, embark on a project of making 6 different Guarneri Del Gesu violins. Namely the D'Egville 1735, the Kemp 1738, the Lord Wilton 1742, the Doyen 1744, the Ole Bull 1744 and last but certainly not least, the Leduc of 1745

I will do this in an attempt to better understand how Del Gesu progressed in his making style, from the early and middle period, with a high degree of craftsmanship and self discipline, to the later years of eccentric artistry.

On the way through this project, I will document the progress with photos and text on this blog, as well as on the workshop and gallery sections of my website. I hope that at least some of you will find it enjoyable.

The instrument in the photo above, is the body only, in the white before varnishing, of an earlier copy I made of the Kemp Guarneri Del Gesu of c.1738. Note the very distinct "f"'s. As is the case with a violins scroll, the "f"'s are very much like a signature of the maker. Although Del Gesu's scrolls and "f"s varied in style and execution over the length of his career, they are always very distinctly Del Gesu.

In my next blog " Preparing the Templates", I will attempt to explain how an instruments, outline and arching are copied and turned into templates, to be used in the making of a new instrument.

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