The Strad magazine, February 2008 issue: In focus: Romeo Antoniazzi, Milano 1902
Copyright © 2013 Alberto Giordano – The Strad magazine. All rights reserved
Romeo Antoniazzi (b. Cremona, 1862; d. Milan, 1925) was the youngest son of Gaetano Antoniazzi, an outstanding Italian violin maker of the second half of the 19th century. Romeo seems to have been quite an unruly character and to have lived quite a difficult life. He was trained by his father, with the assistance of his brother Riccardo, and he joined them in the workshop of Leandro Bisiach, a maker and dealer who had gained a leading position in Milan. However, this collaboration was frequently interrupted because of Romeo’s difficult and restless personality, which led him to change his address frequently – he even worked as a woodworker for a time. Later he was employed in the Milanese workshop of Antonio Monzino, making mostly violins, violas and cellos with the assistance of a group of pupils.
Antoniazzi made his best instruments during his collaboration with Bisiach at the turn of the century, working mainly on Stradivari, Guarneri and Amati models. He won a gold medal at the 1906 violin making exhibition in Milan.
This violin was purchased at the beginning of the 20th century in Milan and has since remained in the possession of the same family. Although it lacks its original fittings, it is in its original condition.
The instrument was made using an internal mould. The blocks are made of pine, the ribs are thin and the linings are of mahogany. The C-bout linings are simply set to the ribs without any mortice and have been gently worked, whereas the others are left unfinished.
The arching is securely sculpted, and is quite hollow around the borders and well rounded in the chest area. The purfling, made of maple and ebony, has been set with great precision and skill, the gently carved scoop lending the border an elegant, classical look.
A knife was used to cut the f-holes, and this appears to have been done with great confidence. There are long and deep nicks, slightly chamfered upper holes and lower palettes with a medium-depth scoop.
The carving on the scroll is in the style typical of the Antoniazzi family. On the side the scoop gets deeper in each turn, and one can see the pinmark on the eye that was used for tracing the model. On the front we have Antoniazzi’s deep scoop and strong taper, and on the rear the scribed centre line.
The varnish differs from the usual kind used by Romeo Antoniazzi. It is laid over a deep ground that is golden–grey in colour. Its texture is thin and soft, and the pores of the wood are not evenly filled. The unpolished surface has become slightly crackled
This violin displays the high speed of workmanship that is typical of the Antoniazzi family and of Romeo in particular. It sometimes results in a stiffness of style. In this case, the elegance of the borders, the slight antiquing work and the soft golden varnish give the violin a tasteful look.
- Back length 356mm
- Stop length 196mm
- Upper bouts 167mm
- Middle bouts 106.7mm
- Lower bouts 207mm
The Strad, febraury 2008 – Photographs Marco Ricci FotoPrisma – Genova, Italy