A cello by Giovanni Battista Genova

05 Mar 2019 - John Dilworth
A cello by G.B. Genova
A cello by G.B. Genova

This extremely rare and interesting cello bears the label of Giovanni Battista Genova of Turin, dated 1780. His work is little known, yet quite distinctive. Stylistically it does significantly recall the work of his immediate predecessor in Turin, Giovanni Francesco Celoniato, although Genova’s workmanship is not quite so refined, and no secure biographical information has so far emerged from the archives of Turin, or his presumed birthplace of Genoa. Nevertheless, as far as this cello is concerned, it shares a similar small model with cellos by Celoniato- also quite rare- and also the distinctive volute, carved with an extended final turn into the eye. The vigorous gougework in the points of the corners is also a common feature of Turinese work, observable in Cappa and other early makers of this very particular school in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

The back is made of rather plain wood, and the most prominent feature is the hook-hole in the upper centre, now neatly plugged with a dowel. The purpose of the hook-hole was to secure a supporting strap worn by the player, but this doesn’t seem to have been much used in this case, and is neatly rounded and showing only minor damage to the surrounding surface.

The head is also of plain maple, and despite the Staineresque extended last turn to the eye, is very well modelled in Stradivarian style, with a neatly fluted chin and pegbox.

The arching is full and rounded on both plates, and not excessively channelled at the edges. The soundholes, although not fluted, are very elegant in a very Amati-like manner. The instrument wears a very fine golden yellow varnish, again strongly reminiscent of Celoniato, and seeming to affirm a strong connection between the two makers, and it is very tempting to assign to them the roles of master and pupil.

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