ANDREA AMATI (1505-1577)
FATHER OF THE VIOLIN, VIOLA AND CELLO.
WHAT CAME FIRST THE VIOLIN OR THE CELLO?
THE CELLO CAME FIRST! Andrea Amati (1505-1577) Cremona, Italy designed and built the instruments of the violin family as we know them today. The "King" cello, as it is called, the earliest instrument of the violin family known to survive was built in 1538. In 1560, it was painted to serve as part of a set of 38 stringed instruments by Andrea Amati that were painted and gilded for the French court of King Charles IX (d. 1574) - by his mother, Catherine de' Medici, a member of Italian royalty - with the King's emblems and mottoes. The set was used until the French Revolution (1789). Only a few instruments from the set have survived.
THE OLDEST VIOLIN!
This violin with long hooked corners, large sound holes and beautiful translucent amber colored varnish was made by Andrea Amati in 1560. It was one of 38 instruments order for the French Court of Charles IX and is one of only fourteen instruments known to still survive. It is decorated with gilt paintings of fleurs-de-lis and trefoils on its back as well as a Latin motto painted in gilt around its ribs. The violin is a larger model that Amati made. King Charles IX and his queen Cathrine de' Medici were the first monarchs to order these new kind of instruments. Once they arrived in France other monarchs also wanted them. This was the begining of the violin family's popularity.
THE OLDEST VIOLA!
This viola made in 1560 is the best preserved of Andrea Amati's decorated instruments. It features gilt paintings of fleurs-de-lis and trefoils on its back, surrounding the monogram identified to be that of Marguerite de Valois-Angoulême. The Latin motto painted in gilt around the monogram, as well as around the ribs, is identical to that found on other Amati violins made at the same time and may be for the court of King Philip II of Spain. The loss of some of the mottoes' text, as well as other decorative elements painted on the back, clearly reveals that this instrument was reduced in both length and width from its original, large tenor dimensions.