An 18th Century Tyrolean Violin
Violin making in Tyrol was most heavily influenced by Jacob Stainer (1619-1683) from Absam, who purportedly studied with Nicolas Amati (1596-1684). However, due to the 30 Year War (1618-1648) which raged during his tenure as a journeyman, traditionally a five year apprenticeship to a guild master, there is little evidence to substantiate this claim other than the pattern which his work followed. Rather, the similarities thereof in his earliest work, dated from the 1630’s. Furthermore, the flatter-arched pattern he adopted after returning to Absam in 1656 more directly corresponds to Amati’s ‘Grand’ pattern. Though, he would have had ample opportunity to study several examples and was even hailed as an equal contemporary to the Cremonese master in his own lifetime.
Whereas Stainer’s influence naturally swept Northwards in a more meaningful way, it was his most famous protege Mathias Albani I (1621-1673) of Bolzano and his progeny that percolated his style South, through Italy by way of Venice, Rome, and further East yet. Mathias Albani II (1634-1712) reestablished the family dynasty in Botzen, now known as Bolzano, in the early 1670’s. Given that the first evidence of a personal label was in 1683, much of his early work was confused with that of his father, though closer to the Brothers Amati in modeling. Much of his later work was likely handled by his sons, Michele and Giuseppe, whose influence is readily seen in the Jais family - the tie to Mittenwald and sweeping into even the Hornsteiner family.
Given the easily accessible and daily trade route between Bolzano and Venice, Albani’s style was most readily evident in the early Venetian school, and easily recognized by the curled and long swept lower tongues of the f holes and flatter arching through the corners. Having said that, Mathias Albani II also worked in Rome for both Martino Arz and Andrea Portoghesi in the 1660’s.
This violin with a back length of 353mm is very interesting example of what is sometimes referred to as Albani School, though with a more Stainer informed arching. Though it has little more to do with this violin than articulating the forebear of its stylings, there is a Stainer label in the belly. To my eye, most probably Linz, as of yet unattributed, and awaiting the results of a dendrochronology analysis.
This violin has been in the same family for five generations and some 130 years before arriving at Cohen Violins for restoration and sale. I would describe its voice as decisively forward and clear, cavernous, yet full, and with the fine silvery quality for which these instruments are very much beloved and sought after.