I recently had an opportunity to spend a quiet Sunday morning in the Musical Instruments room at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Over a series of several blog posts, I am excited to share my favorite instruments from this collection.
First is the "Antonius" violin by Stradivari. The violin was made in 1711, during Stradivari's so-called "golden period" from 1700-1720 when Stradivari gave up his long pattern model and returned to making his traditional model with slightly lower arching, which resulted in a more powerful tone. The "golden period" is often considered to be the pinnacle of Stradivari's career, and he constructed some of his most sought-after instruments during this period, including the "Lady Blunt" and the "Messiah."
The date of the instrument was originally thought to be either 1717 or 1721, but when the label was seen under ultraviolet light, experts were able to agree that the actual date is 1711.
The first recorded owner of the instrument was Wilhelm Hermann Hamming, who owned the instrument until 1905. Between 1909 and 1925, the instrument was owned by Felis Berber and later Ann Matthews before being acquired by Annie Bolton Mathews Bryant in 1925, who later donated the instrument to the Met in 2004. The name "Antonius" was given to the violin in honor of the maker by the Annie Bolton Matthews Bryant.
The back of the instrument is 355mm long and is made of two pieces of narrowly figured maple.
Here is a video of the chaconne from J.S. Bach's Partita no. 2 in D Minor played by Eric Grossman on the Stradivari "Antonius" violin:
Unfortunately, the display of the instruments at the Met does not allow for great photography, but I did manage to take several photos of the violin: