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Bernhard Fendt’s ‘remarkable imitation of a 1705 period Stradivari

20 Oct 2017 - John Dilworth

Lot 6 in our October auction is a Bernhard Fendt violin made in London, circa 1810. It is one of three violins we gave luthier, restorer and expert John Dilworth to analyse ahead of the auction. In the first of his three articles about each instrument, Dilworth notes Fendt’s remarkable imitation of a 1705 Stradivari.

Bernard Simon Fendt I joined the shop of John Betts in Royal Exchange, London, in 1809, following training with his uncle Francois Fent in Paris, and with John Lott in the shop of Thomas Dodd in Covent Garden, London. This gave him an ability to copy and reproduce the styles of the great Italian makers which were growing rapidly in commercial and musical importance in the early nineteenth century.

This violin is a typical, but at the same time remarkable imitation of a 1705 period Stradivari. The workmanship is precise and accurate, and the only departures from the Stradivari model are in the narrow chamfers of the scroll, a characteristic of Fendt, and the thickly textured dark varnish, which is mostly a patina applied to imitate age over the thinner red coat that lies beneath, another characteristic feature of his workmanship.