Stradivari Cello – Smithsonian

Posted on | February 19, 2011 | 1 Comment|


This week I flew to Washington to visit the Smithsonian and the Library of Congress.   Both museums have great collections of string instruments and in  particular I went to see the Stradivari ‘Servais’ cello from 1701. I already had some information on the ‘Servais’.  The purpose of this trip was to gather more information, measurements, take detailed photos to use while making my cellos.

I measured the thicknesses of the front, back and sides and recorded the arching shapes and various measurements on the body and scroll. Museum curator Kenneth Slowik was very kind and gave me a wonderful room with great natural light to work and take photos. My aim with the photos was not to take the standard shots but to focus on details of varnish wear and the sculptural qualities of this instrument. Below are a couple of photos I took of the Stradivari cello.


The fluting is beautifully carved right around under the scroll with a sharp central spine. And the turns around the eye show typical straight tool marks.


The photo above shows a portion of the back:  Some of the varnish here had developed a very delicate craquelure. This texture appeared only on a few areas of the back and sides.

Over at the Library of Congress I studied the Guarneri violin once played by Fritz Kreisler.  Also I couldn’t leave Washington without looking over the stunning ‘Betts’ Stradivari violin before heading back to Ottawa to complete the cello on the bench. (thank you to Library of Congress curator Carol Lynn Ward-Bamford)


One Response to “Stradivari Cello – Smithsonian”

  1. Ken Pollard
    February 21st, 2011 @ 8:40 am

    Thank you for posting the photos, the scroll in particular I liked. Great detail, and I appreciate the off-angle shot to see the fluting better. It’s really in nice shape.

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    Guy Harrison Violin Maker
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    1997 Silver medal for viola in the Mittenwald International Violin Making Competition, Germany.

    2010 Bronze medal for violin in the Mittenwald International Violin Making Competition, Germany.

    2014 Workmanship award for violin in the Mittenwald International Violin Making Competition, Germany.

    2016 Silver Workmanship medal for cello in the VSA Violin Making Competition, USA.

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