through the eyes of a modern maker —
an exhibit of violins and violas by Douglas Cox
Modern makers have always looked to their predecessors for inspiration and solutions for technical problems. G.B. Guadagnini is not the first of these to be looked to by contemporary makers as he is usually considered a second tier maker, and his work has a great deal of variation and inconsistency.
This exhibit explores Guadagnini’s development as interpreted through the lens of my experience. Three of the violin reproductions, each from distinct periods, come from my direct experience with instruments that have been available to me for study. Three more are variants on these same patterns based on photographs and information contained in the recent book edited by Andrea Zanré. Both violas are based on information from this reference book.
While it is not clear that Guadagnini had experience working with any top tier makers — his claim on his labels notwithstanding — he certainly had his own genius and was soaking up information from some of the best sources available to his generation. This makes the evolution of his work valuable for its insights, and of interest to modern makers because of the similarity of his working environment to our own.
I have been attracted to his work since my first large-scale restoration project on a 1760 example (Kripps) and a series of early copies based on this first-hand information. The recent publication of the large-scale book cataloging the 2011 Parma exhibition inspired me to revisit what Guadagnini has to inspire and teach, with the benefit of insight from 40 years experience.
I hope you will find this exhibit interesting as an exploration of how makers evolve and influence each other, even over the distance of several centuries.