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This small violin, made in 1564, is the earliest known dated violin. The motto on the ribs: pietate et iustitia (‘by piety and justice’) and the emblems painted on the back, identify it as one of a set of instruments commissioned from Andrea Amati of Cremona for the court of the French king, Charles IX (1550–74). The front and back are edged with a neat single line of purfling, drawn to a sharp point in the corners, and the f-holes of a typical Amati form are cut fairly broad with large upper eyes. The one-piece back and the ribs are made of maple. The scroll is original, but the neck, fingerboard, pegs, and tailpiece are later. There are many signs of wear, but it is generally well preserved.

  • Date:
  • Maker:
    Amati, Andrea I [Person]
  • Collection:
    Ashmolean Museum
  • Inventory number:
  • Place of production:
    Cremona (Timezone: Europe/Rome)
  • Culture:
  • Period:
  • Materials:pine, maple, ivory
  • Specific materials/techniques:
  • Decorative elements:
  • Inscriptions:inscription/mark: [illegible] Cremona MDLXIV (Label)|inscription/mark: PIETATE ET IUSTITIA (by piety and justice) (motto on the ribs)
  • Hornbostel-Sachs category:
  • Repository:Ashmolean Museum
  • Measurements:340.5 mm of back length; 157.5 mm upper bout (back) width; 104 mm middle bout (back) width; 194.25 mm lower bout (back) width; 318 mm string length