Giovanni Francesco Pressenda was perhaps the most important Italian violin maker of the 19th century and certainly is considered among the very best of the Turin school. He entered the field shortly after the Guadagnini family brought violin making to the very highest level, and picked up a thorough understanding of this knowledge.
After apprenticeships with several French violin makers, including Leté-Pillement, he established his own firm in Turin in 1820, the same year that this instrument was made. At this point in time, Pressenda was beginning to move beyond the forms and models of his violin masters to introduce his own skills and ideas into his work.
When I look at this instrument, I know it has a story to tell. It was made by a highly experienced violin maker who was already recognized by his peers. He modeled his instruments closely on Stradivari, but introduced personal touches that include his own interpretation of the corners, edges, f-holes, and scroll. He used wood that was visually attractive and acoustically superb, and in the varnish, one can see the influence of the French violin makers for whom he had worked.
A Pressenda violin will be offered at our Fine Musical Instruments auction on November 24, 2013. The instrument has a beautiful, even sound and is in really wonderful condition. The layers of varnish range from a golden yellow to a rich, fiery red-brown. The certificate, written by Dario D’Attili in June, 1975, verifies the instrument as an original Pressenda and includes three photographs. The consignor has taken excellent care of the instrument since that time.
In my opinion, instruments are never really “owned” and this is especially so for the really fine instruments that grace the world. Every individual who touches a violin like this – violinist, luthier, dealer, or auction house – is a custodian of the instrument and plays an important role in its future condition. When we offer this instrument on in the Fine Musical Instruments auction, a new violinist will be able to benefit from this wonderful instrument that has been making music for nearly two hundred years, and also take on the responsibility of caring for its future for the next hundred years and beyond.