This is a fine violin by Nicolo Gagliano, made in 1761 and bearing its original label. It’s a particularly attractive example with a sublime tone.

Nicolo Gagliano is one of the most highly respected makers of the sprawling Gagliano family, and indeed of all the Neapolitan makers. Eldest son of Alessadro Gagliano, he worked very closely with his brother Gennaro, and between them they attained real tonal excellence in their instruments.

Nicolo Gagliano worked largely on Stradivari and Amati models, and this violin is modelled on Amati – quite small, narrow and graceful, with a full lateral arch.

The materials are very typical – super-fine table grain, straight as an arrow, a broad and smoky flame to the maple of the back and ribs, and a plain scroll with the characteristic 2X2 peg configuration.

The condition is very good for a mid-18th century instrument. There are 3 repaired cracks in the lower bouts of the table, both f-holes have wing cracks, there’s a repaired crack in the upper treble rib, and the pegbox has been re-cheeked. Unusually there’s no post crack in the table – the back is in excellent condition and is quite stunning.

There’s a great deal of original varnish remaining, and all restoration has been carried out to the highest standard.

This is a very sophisticated violin, Amatise in character, with a lightning response and a crystalline tone that’s at once pure and telling. Definitely not one for a sloppy player, it will give you back exactly what you put in, but this is its greatest asset. It’s rare to find this sort of limpid voice in a violin which is stiff enough to resist some heavy bow pressure – the result is an instrument which offers a huge range of emotional possibilties. It’s capable of real beauty but you have to stay on top of it!

This would be a perfect choice for a quartet leader or a chamber music professional – it’s supremely well balanced, it has clarity and refinement, but it also has some compelling and other-worldly quality to the sound which is very addictive.

A real stand-out …

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