The Antoniazzi family were a leading force in Italian violin making in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Riccardo was the elder son of Gaetano (1825-1897), and was born in Cremona in 1853. Gaetano learned with Enrico Ceruti and the Antoniazzis all show a stylistic debt to the Ceruti family, to a greater or lesser extent. The family moved from Cremona to Mantua and then Genoa and in 1880 Riccardo went to Nice, where he probably worked with Nicolo Bianchi. He remained there after Bianchi’s death in 1881 until about 1886, when he finally settled in Milan. There he founded the modern Milanese school of violin making alongside his pupil Leandro Bisiach, working in a manner clearly evolved from his father’s style. Bisiach was the more effective businessman, and organised a very successful workshop around the Antoniazzi brothers, during which time they produced much of their best work. This is on a personal model typified by an elegant, slightly slender-waisted outline, with finely cut soundholes in both Guarneri and Stradivari pattern. From 1904 Riccardo was employed by the firm of Monzino & Son, originally founded as a music publisher, and from 1910 was contracted exclusively to them, supplying violins, violas and cellos, which he did on a prolific scale. These later instruments are generally more wayward in styles and models. The close conditions of the Monzino workshop, which employed several other makers, makes identification of the individual hand more difficult, and Eminio Farina, in particular, provided assistance to Riccardo.
Antoniazzi’s instruments often bear a brand, ‘AR’ within a crowned circle, and are always of a very high standard. Unlike many contemporaries, he did not ‘age’ his varnish, which, although it takes many forms, colours and textures, is always laid on in a full and homogenous coating. He died in 1912, having never achieved great personal success despite his enormous skill as a craftsman and his importance within the revival of Italian violin making.
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