More on the Lady Blunt…

Antonio Stradivari’s Lady Blunt was made in 1721 making it just about the last violin that he made within his ‘golden period’. After the 1716 Messiah it is reckoned to be the finest Stradivari violin in existence, and the finest example outright in private hands. Here it is being graced by Yehudi Menuhin at Sotheby’s in 1971


The violin is accompanied by it’s original bass bar and fingerboard. The original neck is retained and the 19th century modernisation sympathetically raised the heel to give the violin a modern neck angle. The present pegs and tailpiece are by Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume. No other Stradivari violin – including the Messiah – has as many original parts.

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I was in the Musée de la Musique in Paris not very long ago and pondering a group of old fittings once given to the Paris Conservatoire by Vuillaume. I might have been frustrated that one was displayed upside down, but suddenly got that spine-tingling moment of excitement and discovery. The manuscript hand on the back of the tailpiece was Vuillaume’s and was instantly memorable as a match for the inscriptions on the back of the fingerboard first in pencil and also in pen (A.E. Hill later added that the fingerboard was from the Lady Blunt, it was yet to be named when Vuillaume had it). It seems without any significant doubt that the tailpiece is the original to the instrument. Is this geekery at it’s most extreme? Well, the answer is no. The answer is that we can now finally locate a matched set of original fittings for a Stradivari violin. I just wonder if there are four pegs knocking around as well…

Ladyblunttailpiece

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