A Rare Hungarian Violin By Samuel Nemessanyi, 1875.
Born to a shoemaker, or cobbler, if you will, Samuel Nemessanyi (1837-1881) led a short, highly storied life, which many historians parallel to Guarneri del Gesu’s; a master artisan who achieved both international repute and widespread acknowledgement as one of the most skilled and important craftsman in all of Hungary during his own lifetime. Though his father had encouraged Samuel to pursue glass blowing, he would leave his hometown of Liptau-St. Nikolaus (which would later land in Slovakia) for Pest at the age of 18 to apprentice in carpentry and cabinet making. It was there that Nemessanyi met Thomas Zach (1812-1892) and was brought into the workshop of Johann Baptist Schweitzer (1790-1865). Together, the three represent a blossoming in Hungarian violin making tradition, regarded today as some of the most important instrument makers of the school, if not the world over. Completing a four year apprenticeship in just three years, Nemessanyi would find himself in Prague working for another pupil of Schweitzer’s, Anton Sitt (1819-1878) in 1858, where he gained intimate familiarity with the works of Stradivari and Guarneri. He returned to Hungary two years later began taking his own apprentices in 1870: Karl Hermann Voigt (1850-1925), and Bela Szepessy (1856-1925). Nemessanyi married a second time in 1872 and began working fervently again at the new Hungarian capital of Budapest, with clients often waiting months for their instruments. Tbought he died shortly after a stroke at just 44 years of age, his traditions have been passed on through the generations by his apprentices, and theirs, etc., which also include Eduard Bartek, Paul Pilar, Deszo Barany, Janos Spiegel, and Mihaly Remenyi.
This elegant violin after Guarneri bears the master’s personal label, dated 1875 and is offered with a personal letter from the previous owner attesting it had been in his family for three generations, a dendrochonology report, and a Hungarian certificate from Tibor Semmelweis.