Amati violins are violins that were made by four generations of the Amati family, who flourished in Cremona, northern Italy, from around 1549 to 1740.
Brief history and description
Andrea Amati (c.1505-c.1578) is widely credited for giving the modern violin its definitive shape. However, only a very small number of his instruments have survived and most bear the coat of arms of Charles IX of France. The most famous of these is simply called the “Charles IX”. Made in 1564, it is believed to be the oldest confirmed remaining violin.
Antonio Amati (c.1550-) and Girolamo Amati (1540-1607) succeeded their father, Andrea Amati, and have been recognised for innovating the earlier profile of the violin, especially perfecting the shape of the f-holes in order to project the sound of the instrument more efficiently.
Nicolò Amati (1596-1684) is perhaps the most eminent of the family. The son of Girolamo Amati, Nicolò continued to improve on the family model and created violins that were able to harness a much greater depth of tone and volume.
At the beginning of the seventeenth century a new musical aesthetic had developed in Western Europe, which emphasised the violinists’ ability to express emotion and to perform with intense virtuosity. Cremona was the epicentre of violin making in Europe and Nicolò Amati violins were the most sought after.
Violins made by Nicoló Amati, are considered to be the most advanced and concert worthy of the family’s production and, as a result, are the most pursued by collectors. Nicolò’s violins tended to be wider than other makers instruments at the time, and these models, now known as the “Grand Amati”, are especially desirable to collectors and musicians alike.
According to Violinadvisor.com, prices for Amati violins have steadily increased at an average annual rate of 7.8% since the early 1980s. Amati violins are regularly sold at international auctioneers such as Sotheby’s and Christie’s and prices tend to start from $50,000 and can reach up to $500,000. Although the Amatis were the first family of violin makers, they are sold for considerably less than a Stradivari or Guarneri violin, which continue to dominate the most expensive violins on the market.
As an investment, violins are ideal additions to a varied investment portfolio as they display low association with stocks and bonds. However, collectors or investors who are not musicians or have little expertise with stringed instruments should try to find professional advice before going into the highly competitive and expensive violin market.
In October 2007, a Nicoló Amati violin, dated to 1671, was sold at Sotheby’s, London, for £96,000.
Addtionally, a violin produced by Antonio and Girolamo Amati, c.1619, realised a price of $110,500 when it was sold at the New York branch of Christie’s. The violin surpassed its initial presale estimation of $70,000 to $90,000.
In October 2011, a violin made by Nicoló Amati in Bologna, circa 1735, realised a price of £27,000 when it was sold at the London branch of Sotheby’s. The violin exceeded its presale estimate of £18,000 to £25,000.