Jacob Fendt Violin, London circa 1840


Jacob Fendt ViolinLike his brother Martin, Jacob Fendt produced beautifully observed copies of the classical Cremonese masters which sound every bit as sumptuous as they look. Sadly he lived a short life and there are very few examples of his work remaining.

Jacob and Martin Fendt are amongst the least well known of English makers – they don’t even merit their own entires in “The British Violin” – yet they produced some of the finest violins to come out of London. Much of their work was carried out for Arthur Betts and Richard Davis. Both produced exquisite copies of Strads and del Gesus, some of these finding their way onto the market as authentic examples. Jacob Fendt is known to have been heavily disfigured by smallpox, and perhaps he preferred to work behind the scenes – there are very few violins known which bear his label.

Jacob Fendt was surely also responsible for many composite violins, spinning out one original Cremonese instrument to make three. These were dark times!

The fact remains that both brothers had real skill, and their violins tend to have unparalleled tonal qualities. This super Del Gesu copy is no exception – it’s a very powerful and fully realised concert instrument. It bears a striking resemblance to the example shown in The Cooper Collection Vol II page 70, and clearly takes its inspiration from late Del Gesu.

The condition is generally very good – there are some minor edge cracks to the table, there’s a wing crack to the bass f-hole, and the ribs have a few very neat repairs (attributable to their extreme thin-ness). The back and scroll are unblemished, and unusually the table is free of voice cracks or patches.

Question : How do you get a del Gesu for 1% of the asking price?
Answer : Buy a Jacob Fendt …

Although so many makers have copied Stradivari and del Gesu, very few have achieved anything close to the nobility of tone of the instruments they were copying. It probably helped Jacob Fendt that he had the chance to take apart real examples on his bench and see how the wood felt – he certainly understands the arching and the function of the f-holes.

There’s just something about this violin – it has huge reserves of power, it has the unusual combination of brown, gritty warmth and extreme clarity which we associate with the great del Gesu instruments, and it’s a wonderful tool for making music. The best way of describing the sound is to state quite baldly that all the frequencies are there! it simply makes any other violin sound a bit lacking by comparison. It puts out enormous volume, but always with this blend of fruity depth and silvery brightness.

So, not to bang on about it too much, this is a superb soloist’s instrument with unrivalled projection and beauty of tone.

If you would like a link to a You Tube link of this violin being used in solo performance against an orchestra in a concert environment, just get in touch…

Dimensions: length of back 35.45cm, stop 130.5/194mm

Certificate: John Dilworth, Richmond 2019

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Jacob Fendt Violin front photo Jacob Fendt Violin back photo Jacob Fendt Violin side photo Jacob Fendt Violin scroll photo

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