Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Lady Blunt - Stradivarius Violin

The Lady Blunt
A pristine Stradivarius violin, which experts have described as the 'Mona Lisa' of stringed instruments has sold for a record £9.8million at auction, with the proceeds going to charity.

The Lady Blunt Stradivarius has fetched a groundbreaking price each time it's been auctioned and made £6million in 2008.

Until recently it was owned by the Nippon Music Foundation - a Japanese body whose aim is to increase public interest in music and which has a large collection of priceless antique instruments.

The Lady Blunt violin, made by Stradivarius in 1721, fetched nearly £9.8m following the online auction

However the organization decided to pass the instrument on to benefit victims of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami.

An auction conducted by London-based online auction house Tarisio on Monday night attracted considerable interest around the world before it was finally sold to an unnamed bidder for the record sum.

Stradivarius, regarded as the finest violin maker in history, made the instrument in 1721.

The violin was named after Lady Anne Blunt, the granddaughter of Lord Byron

However it didn't get its name until more than 150 years later when Lady Anne Blunt - who was the granddaughter of Lord Byron and a talented musician - took ownership.

Regarded as one of the finest examples of an instrument made by the Italian craftsman, it has been in the hands of collectors for almost its entire history - which makes it virtually unique among violins.

Master craftsmanship: Experts said it was rare to find a Stradivarius in such pristine condition

The Messiah
And it is considered to be as good as the Messiah, a 1716 Stradivari bequeathed to The Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, on the condition it can never be played.

The density of the wood used is what's thought to give Stradivarius violins their uniquely sweet sound.

Tests were carried out on violins made by Stradivarius and another renowned Italian violin maker, Guarneri del Gesu, along with eight 'modern' violins.

Experts discovered that variations in wood growth density, determined by tree growth cycles, were considerably larger in the modern violins.

Early growth wood, produced during spring, is more porous and less dense than late growth wood which provides more structural support rather than transporting water.

The early and late growth wood in the modern instruments had noticeable different densities not present in the older instruments.

Experts concluded that wood treatments used by the Italian craftsment may have contributed to the instruments' sound.

Lady Tennant
Kazuko Shiomi, president of the foundation, said, 'While this violin was very important to our collection, the needs of our fellow Japanese people after the March 11 tragedy have proven that we all need to help, in any way we can.

'The donation will be put to immediate use on the ground in Japan.'

Following the auction The Lady Blunt has been hailed as the best-preserved Stradivarius to be sold in 100 years.

Jason Price, director of Tarisio, added: 'Fine instruments appreciate in value just like fine works of art, and the Lady Blunt is the most significant violin that a collector can buy.

'In the world of stringed instruments, it is the equivalent of Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa or Michelangelo's David.'

Solomon Ex-Lambert
Christopher Reuning, of Reuning and Son Violins in Boston, added, 'Rarely does a Stradivarius of this quality in such pristine condition and with such significant historical provenance come up for sale.

'It still shows the tool-marks and brushstrokes of Stradivari. The Lady Blunt is perhaps the best-preserved Stradivarius to be offered for sale in the past century.'

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