The shape of Amati’s violin has remained unchanged and unchallenged for over four hundred years.
This violin was part of one of the earliest sets of stringed instruments, as part of a set of thirty-eight made for King Charles IX of France and the French court at Versailles. This violin was one of twelve small violins in this set, and is one of only two to survive.
Only seven instruments in total survive from this collection. It is thought that Charles IX’s mother, Catherine de Medici suggested the commission of these instruments, since she was a well known patron of art and music.
The violin is painted and gilded with the King’s motto ‘piety and justice’ and the coat of arms of the French court.
The violin is still played very occasionally. A recording can be heard in Tullie House Museum.
The front piece is made from spruce, whilst the back piece is made from maple, which is a hardwood. The traditional wave-like pattern found on most violins is called ‘fiddle-back’, from the natural pattern of the maple wood grain.
The history of the Amati violin between the court of Charles IX and the 1920s is unknown, and it next appeared in 1922 at a violin dealership. In 1935 it was purchased by Miss Sybil Mounsey-Heysham of Carlisle, and was part of a bequest to Tullie House in 1949, with a selection of other instruments.
- The Amati Violin was part of one of the earliest collections of stringed instruments in the world.
- It was made c.1566 for the court of Charles IX of France
- The violin is gilded and decorated with the coat of arms of the French court, and Charles IX's motto, piety and justice.
I’m responsible for the art collections in the museum which cover fine art (paintings, watercolours, drawings, prints, sculpture) dating from 1650