Antonio Stradivari (1644?–1737), 59.3 cm long, Cremona, with the original label: Antonius Stradivarius Cremoensis/Faciebat Anno 1716.
Known as the Messiah, this is one of the most famous violins in the world. In the nineteenth century, one of its owners, Tarisio, often boasted about it but hardly ever produced it, until someone said: ‘It's like the Messiah, always promised and never appearing.' The body has survived in excellent condition although the neck has been lengthened and the fingerboard, tail-piece and pegs are modern. The varnish is particularly well preserved. Joachim praised the tone when playing the instrument in the late nineteenth century. In recent years, it has not been played at all owing to the demands of conservation. It came to the Museum with the remarkable gift of the Arthur and Alfred Hill collection of musical instruments, 1939. [Presented by Arthur and Alfred Hill, WA1940.112, H18].
Second Floor, Room 39, Music and Tapestry