The arch is low but full, springing powerfully from the flat edge, and a myriad scraper marks attest to the speed at which the whole violin was produced. The edge is not well regulated in thickness or profile, and the purfling follows it uncertainly, being quite broad and prominent, and a little unyielding in the curves.
The head is almost brutal, carved with great energy and finished with the minimum of fuss, yet in its formal relation to classical models, maintains a powerful charm. Unlike the handsomely figured back of imported maple, the head is carved from the native Italian oppio, distinctive because of its tight, narrow figure and darker colour. It represents an interesting link with the older masters, all of whom used this material liberally, but which has now all but disappeared, and is never found in non-Italian work. The front has the appearance of mountain grown spruce and is of very broad grain throughout, which raises a slightly ragged edge to the swiftly cut soundholes. A simple gouge cut establishes the flute in the lower wing.
It really is Scarampella’s varnish which visually lifts the whole instrument firmly into the upper ranks of the later Italian school. It has a fiery burnt orange colour that sits close to the wood, and appears as if it were laid on with a single broad brushstroke. It is very well preserved in this instrument, with a fine, clear texture, and a sparkle that distinguishes his work from the laboriously worked and polished sheen that many of his contemporaries and successors resorted to.
Scarampella was aided and supported in later years by his pupil Gaetano Gadda. He never achieved great success in his own lifetime, and relied heavily on Gadda as his health declined after about 1915. He died in 1925, and Gadda continued to work in his master’s style, along with his son Mario Gadda, producing instruments that are often hard to distinguish from the originals, often bearing authentic labels left from Scarampella’s own workshop. Indisputably authentic and original violins by Stefano Scarampella are actually rarer than it might seem, despite his own hectic and bustling efforts, and of real and well-deserved value.