The eldest son and pupil of Carlo Bergonzi, born in 1721, Michele Angelo’s earliest work is dated 1744, shortly before he moved, with his father, into the Stradivari house in Cremona in 1745. This followed the death of Francesco, the last violin maker of the Stradivari family in 1743, and much of the Bergonzis’ time was devoted to the finishing of instruments left in the workshop. Carlo died in 1747 and Michele Angelo lived only until 1758, when he died aged 37, explaining his rather meagre output. This is due not only to his occupation in the Stradivari shop, but also to the decline in Cremona’s situation generally, following the death of its other great maker, Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesù, in 1744. Michele Angelo’s work, however, is a very interesting reflection of the period and exhibits a surprising influence from del Gesù as well as Stradivari, with a similar spontaneity and freedom of execution. Some instruments can be ranked very highly even amongst his Cremonese peers, but he was not greatly consistent and some are made from quite poor quality materials, again illustrating the general poverty in the craft at the time. Similarly his varnish varies from the very beautifully deep-tinted and richly-textured coating of the best Cremonese, to a relatively thin and pale varnish commonly used elsewhere.
22 March 2014
ARTICLE EXTRACT A 260-year-old violin used as a concert instrument by acclaimed soloist Leila Josefowicz is set to fetch up to £150,000 at auction. The violin, believed to be by leading 18th Century Italian maker Michele Angelo Bergonzi, helped launch... Read more
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