French Violin Makers, German Violin Makers, English Violin Makers, Antonio Stradivari

Italian Violin Makers

PASTA, Domenico, Brescia, about 1700.

PAZZINI, Gaetano, Florence, about 1630, pupil of Maggini.

PICINO, Padua, 1712. High model; dark varnish.

PLATNER, Michel, Rome, about 1750. The instruments of this maker resemble those of Tecchler, both in workmanship and varnish.
Michael Platner fecit Romæ anno 17—

POLLUSCA, Antonio, Rome, about 1751.

POSTIGLIONE, Vincenzo, Naples, contemporary.
Joannes Franciscus Pressenda
q. Raphael fecit Taurini
Anno Domini 1826.

PRESSENDA, Giovanni Francesco, Turin. Born in the year 1777. The Violins bearing the label of Pressenda are excellently made, and in many instances the varnish is superior to that met with on any Violins dated from Italy in the present century. Pressenda appears to have interested himself to some extent in the matter of varnish. In a little book published in Italy13 there is the following passage: "A pale reflection of the old art (Violin-making) is found in Piedmont, with Guadagnini." The writer continues with the following reference to Pressenda of Turin, who, he remarks, was in his youth at Cremona, "where he collected the traditions of the school as regards modelling and the preparation of the varnish, which is the chief merit of his Violins." It is almost needless to remark that traditional information is frequently unsatisfactory, but particularly so in connection with Cremonese Violin-making and varnishing, near the middle of the last century. In short, the great makers left no other record of the steps they took both in manufacture and in the preparation of their varnish than can be discovered in their works. The instruments of Pressenda present a singular contrast with others of Italian make belonging to this century, most of which evidence what may be termed the throes of a dying manufacture. With Pressenda we appear to have a new departure, in which there is some show of attention having been paid to the work accomplished in the best workshops of Paris. The then condition of Violin-making in Italy made it necessary for any Italian maker—no matter how great his ability—to seek information elsewhere, if desirous of excelling in his art. Pressenda appears to have sought to emulate and even surpass many Parisian makers by associating his name for the most part with good and unsophisticated work. The results of his labours reflect no little credit on his skill and judgment. Pressenda may be styled a born maker of Violins. From an account published by Signor Rinaldi, of Turin, in 1873, we learn that Pressenda was the son of poor parents, who lived in Lequio-Berria, a hamlet in the vicinity of Alba, in Piedmont. His father Raffaele was a strolling fiddler, and gained his precarious livelihood by playing at village fairs and other rejoicings. On these occasions he was accompanied by his son Giovanni, who followed the occupation of his father, playing the Violin with some degree of skill. It was at this period that he appears to have manifested a desire to know something of Violin manufacture, and frequently asked for information from his parent, who, however, was rarely able to satisfy his curiosity. Learning that Cremona was in some way associated with good Violins, he resolved to fiddle his way to that city. There he found Storioni, from whom he obtained some rudimentary knowledge of the manufacture he was so much interested in. Later he removed to Piedmont, and established himself in Alba in 1814, as a maker of Violins. The patronage he gained was, however, insufficient to maintain him, and he combined the business of cabinet-making with his favourite pursuit. After removing to Carmagnola, he went in the year 1820 to Turin, where his abilities were recognised and rewarded. He was encouraged in his manufacture by Giovanni Battista Polledro, the famous Violinist, who, in 1824, became Musical Director of the Royal Orchestra at Turin. Pressenda died in the year 1854 at Turin. His Violins are chiefly of the model of Stradivari. The sound-holes are well cut. The thicknesses of his best instruments are well arranged, and the wood appears to have been selected with good judgment. The scrolls, whilst having much character, are somewhat roughly cut. The Violins belonging to his early period are chiefly of the Amatese character.

   13 "L'Italie économique," 1847.