Matteo Goffriller is generally considered to be the founder of the Venetian school of violin making. He was born in the Tyrolean town of Bressanone, not far from Bolzano, where he may well have learned the craft of violin making from Matteo Albani. In 1685 he moved to Venice, where he was apprenticed to Martin Kaiser. Showing considerable acumen for business as well as courtship, he married Kaiser’s daughter in the following year, and had inherited Kaiser’s business by 1690.
For the next twenty-five years Goffriller was unrivalled in his position as Venice’s principal maker of stringed instruments, and he had a profound influence on all the great Venetian makers of the early 18th century — Montagnana, Gobetti, Tononi, Serafin and Pietro Guarneri. His trademark deep red varnish, possibly inherited from Albani, was to become the hallmark of a Venetian instrument. He is best known for his cellos, which are considered inferior only to those of Stradivari and Montagnana.
The 1703 violin featured here shows that Goffriller was acquainted with the work of his Cremonese contemporaries, and appears to be modelled on a Stradivari of circa 1700. When compared with the ‘Lady Tennant’ Stradivari of 1699 and the 1703 ‘Dancla’, strong parallels can be seen in the model, f-holes and purfling.
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