Nicola Amati

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Nicola Amati
Nicolò Amati by Jacques-Joseph Lecurieux.jpg
Native name Niccolò Amati
Born (1596-12-03)3 December 1596
Cremona, Italy
Died 12 April 1684(1684-04-12) (aged 87)
Cremona, Italy
Resting place Cremona Cathedral
Residence Cremona
Nationality Italian
Education
  • Girolamo 'Hieronymus' Amati
  • Antonio 'Antonius' Amati
Known for Luthier
Notable work
  • Alard (1649)
  • Brookings (1654)
  • King Louis XIV (1656)[1]
  • Hammerle (1658)
Style
  • Amati style
  • Nicola Amati style
Movement Cremonese school
Spouse(s) Lucrezia Pagliari (m. 1645; wid. 1684)

Nicola Amati or Nicolò or Nicolao (3 December 1596–12 April 1684) was an Italian Master Luthier from Cremona, Italy. Amati is the most well known luthier from the Casa Amati (House of Amati), and was a teacher and inspiration for illustrious Cremonese School luthiers such as Antonio Stradivari, Casa Guarneri and Jacob Stainer.[2]

Biography[edit]

Early life[edit]

Nicola Amati was the fifth[3] son of Girolamo Amati (Hieronymus I, b. 1561; d.1630) from his second wife, and the grandson of Andrea Amati. He was one of 12 children of Girolamo. Amati's mother, Laura de Lazzarini, also known as Laura de Medici de Lazzarini, was the daughter of Giovanni Francesco Guazzoni. They were distantly related to the Florentine Medici family.[4]

Apprenticeship[edit]

Nicola probably apprenticed with his father and uncle. By the 1620s, Nicola was the dominant luthier in the Amati workshop.[5]

Italian Plague of 1629–31[edit]

The 1629–31 Italian plague affected northern and central Italy including Cremona. In 1930, the plague killed Amati's father, mother and two of his sisters.[5] After his parents' death, he lived with his sister until his marriage.[5]

Marriage and family[edit]

Amati married Lucrezia Pagliari (d. 25 November 1703) on 23 May 1645. His pupil, Andrea Guarneri, was present at the ceremony and signed the register.[6] In spite of his advanced age, they had nine children. Several of these children died at an early age. Their son Girolamo Amati (Hieronymus II, b. 1649; d. 1740) was the family's last luthier.[7][8]

Death[edit]

Amati died on 12 April 1684, aged 87, in Cremona, Italy.[6]

String Instruments Making[edit]

1670 Nicola Amati Double bass

Amati Style[edit]

Of all the Amati Family violins, those of Nicola Amati are often considered most suitable for modern playing. As a young man his instruments closely followed the concepts of his father's, with a relatively small model and high arch rising nearly to a ridge in the centre of both the front and back of the instrument.[9]

The Latin forms of the first names, Andreas, Antonius, Hieronymus, and Nicolaus, were generally used on the violin labels, and the family name was sometimes Latinized as Amatus.

Nicola Amati Style[edit]

Beginning in 1630, he gradually began to show signs of originality, which by 1640 were expressed in what is now known as the Grand Amati pattern. Well curved, long-cornered, and strongly and cleanly purfled (decorated with an ornamental border), these instruments represent perhaps the height of elegance in violin making, and were characterized by mathematically derived outlines and transparent amber-colored varnish.[10]

Distinguished Apprentices[edit]

As a lone survivor of fine luthier after the Italian Plague of 1629–31, the demand for musical instruments began to increase in the 1640s thus creating problems for Amati.[5] He was one of the first to take apprentices from outside his family into his workshop.[4] Andrea Guarneri, who eventually founded the Guarneri Family of violin makers, was Amati's pupil. At least one Antonio Stradivari label, dated 1666, reads, "Alumnus Nicolais Amati" - student of Nicolò Amati.[11] It has always been controversial whether he was an actual apprentice of Nicola Amati or merely considered himself a student and admirer of his work.

Other documented pupils of Amati include: Matthias Klotz, Jacob Railich, Bartolomeo Pasta, Bartolomeo Cristofori, Giacomo Gennaro, Giovanni Battista Rogeri and Amati's son, Hieronymus II (often referred to in English as Girolamo).[5][2]

Retirement as luthier[edit]

Nicola ceased being actively involved in violin manufacturing by the end of 1670.[5] Increasingly the handwork of his son, Hieronymus II, is seen on Amati instruments. Amati died on 12 April 1684, aged 87.

Performers with Nicolo Amati isntruments[edit]

Amati's instruments are very rare and most of them are on display in museums around the world.[12][13][14] Museums with his work on display, include the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Museo del Violino in Cremona and the Royal Academy of Music Museum in London.

However, there are a few performers who have played with Nicola instruments, Thomas Bowes plays a Nicola Amati violin, and Chi-chi Nwanoku (OBE) plays an Amati double-bass.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Amati Violin, the "King Louis XIV"". National Museum of American History. Archived from the original on 2018-04-01. 
  2. ^ a b "From the Archive: a violin by Nicolo Amati, Cremona, 1660-70". The Strad. 22 February 2016. Archived from the original on 2018-04-01. 
  3. ^ By Trecciani Archived 2018-04-01 at the Wayback Machine.
  4. ^ a b Faber, Toby (2011). Stradivarius: Five Violins, One Cello and a Genius. London: Pan Macmillan. p. 22. ISBN 9780330475860. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f Hargrave, Roger. "Nicola Amati & the 'Alard'". Roger Graham Hargrave – Violin Maker. Archived from the original on 2017-09-22. 
  6. ^ a b Stainer, Cecie. "Biography of Nicolo Amati". Amati. Archived from the original on 2018-04-01. 
  7. ^ "Girolamo Amati II". Tarisio. Archived from the original on 2016-08-06. 
  8. ^ Stainer, Cecie. "Biography of Hieronymus Amati". Amati. Archived from the original on 2017-10-01. 
  9. ^ Powers, Wendy. "Violin Makers: Nicolò Amati (1596–1684) and Antonio Stradivari (1644–1737)". The Met’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. Archived from the original on 2017-12-20. 
  10. ^ Henley, William (1973). The Universal Dictionary of Violin and Bow Makers. Brighton: Amati. 
  11. ^ Hill, W. H.; Hill, A. F.; Hill, A. E. (1963). Antonio Stradivari: His Life and Work. New York: Dover Publications. ISBN 0-486-20425-1. Retrieved 2009-01-15. 
  12. ^ "Work of Art – Violin 1669 Nicolò Amati". The Met’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. Archived from the original on 2018-04-02. 
  13. ^ "Violin by Nicolo Amati, Cremona, 1662". Royal Academy of Music. Archived from the original on 2016-01-01. 
  14. ^ "Nicolò Amati 1684 "Hammerle" violin". Google Cultural Institute. Archived from the original on 2018-04-10. 

External links[edit]