Giovanni Francesco Pressenda

Highest auction price achieved
£ 205000.00

By George Hart

The Violins bearing the label of Pressenda are excellently made, and in many instances the varnish is superior to that met with on any Violins dated from Italy in the present century. Pressenda appears to have interested himself to some extent in the matter of varnish. In a little book published in Italy ["L'ltalie e"conomique," 1847.] there is the following passage : "A pale reflexion of the old art (Violin-making) is found in Piedmont, with Guadagnini." The writer continues with the following reference to Pressenda of Turin, who, he remarks, was in his youth at Cremona, "where he collected the traditions of the school as regards modelling and the preparation of the varnish, which is the chief merit of his Violins." It is almost needless to remark that traditional information is frequently unsatisfactory, but particularly so in connexion with Cremonese Violinmaking and varnishing near the middle of the last century. In short, the great makers left no other record of the steps they took both in manufacture and in the preparation of their varnish than can be discovered in their works. The instruments of Pressenda present a singular contrast with others of Italian make belonging to this century, most of which evidence what may be termed the throes of a dying manufacture. With Pressenda we appear to have a new departure, in which there is some show of attention having been paid to the work accomplished in the best workshops of Paris. The then condition of Violin-making in Italy made it necessary for any Italian maker—no matter how great his ability—to seek information elsewhere, if desirous of excelling in his art. Pressenda appears to have sought to emulate and even surpass many Parisian makers by associating his name for the most part with good and unsophisticated work. The results of his labours reflect no little credit on his skill and judgment. Pressenda may be styled a born maker of Violins. From an account published by Signor Rinaldi, of Turin, in 1873, we learn that Pressenda was the son of poor parents, who lived in Lequio-Berria, a hamlet in the vicinity of Alba, in Piedmont. His father Raffaele was a strolling fiddler, and gained his precarious livelihood by playing at village fairs and other rejoicings. On these occasions he was accompanied by his son Giovanni, who followed the occupation of his father, playing the Violin with some degree of skill. It was at this period that he appears to have manifested a desire to know something of Violin manufacture, and frequently asked for information from his parent, who, however, was rarely able to satisfy his curiosity. Learning that Cremona was in some way associated with good Violins, he resolved to fiddle his way to that city. There he found Storioni, from whom he obtained some rudimentary knowledge of the manufacture he was so much interested in. Later he removed to Piedmont, and established himself in Alba in 1814, as a maker of Violins. The patronage he gained was, however, insufficient to maintain him, and he combined the business of cabinet-making with his favourite pursuit. After removing to Carmagnola, he went in the year 1820 to Turin, where his abilities were recognised and rewarded. He was encouraged in his manufacture by Giovanni Battista Polledro, the famous Violinist who, in 1824, became Musical Director of the Royal Orchestra at Turin. Pressenda died in the year 1854 at Turin. His Violins are chiefly of the model of Stradivari. The sound-holes are well cut. The thicknesses of his best instruments are well arranged, and the wood appears to have been selected with good judgment. The scrolls, whilst having much character, are somewhat roughly cut. The Violins belonging to his early period are chiefly of the Amatese character.

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Price History

Type Title Sold Price
Violin 35.6 cm Turin, 1825 c. Tue 1st November 11 £ 90219.00
Violin 35.2 cm 19th C. [Ascribed to] Sat 1st October 11 £ 9375.00
Violin 35.5 cm 1830 c. [Attributed to] Sat 1st October 11 £ 67250.00
Viola 39.4 cm Turin, 1833 Mon 1st March 10 £ 79250.00
Violin 35.5 cm 19th C. [Ascribed to] Thu 1st October 09 £ 31513.00
Violin 35.7 cm 1815-1820 c. [Or by one of his followers] Thu 1st October 09 £ 9000.00
Cello 76.4 cm 1880 c. [Attributed to] Fri 1st May 09 £ 8540.00
Violin 35.6 cm Italy [Attributed to] Wed 1st October 08 £ 32450.00
Violin 35.6 cm Turin, 1834, with Provenance Sat 1st March 08 £ 132500.00
Violin 35.5 cm Turin, 1827 Mon 1st October 07 £ 90500.00
Violin 35.6 cm Turin, 1829 Thu 1st March 07 £ 92000.00
Violin 35.5 cm [Ascribed to] Thu 1st February 07 £ 31200.00
Violin 36.1 cm Mid-19th C. [Arrtibuted to] Wed 1st November 06 £ 81600.00
Violin 35.5 cm [Ascribed to] Sat 1st July 06 £ 19200.00
Violin 35.4 cm Turin, 1828 Mon 1st May 06 £ 108401.00
Violin Turin, 1848 Exceptionally fine example Mon 1st November 04 £ 106050.00
Violin Turin, 1833 Mon 1st November 04 £ 145600.00
Violin Italy [Attributed to] Mon 1st November 04 £ 28680.00
Violin Turin, 1843 Sat 1st May 04 £ 57344.00
Violin 1825 Thu 1st May 03 £ 112250.00
Violin 1832 Fri 1st November 02 £ 113750.00
Violin 1832 Fri 1st November 02 £ 138650.00
Violin 1841 Sat 1st June 02 £ 149650.00
Violin 1827 Sat 1st June 02 £ 141413.00
Violin 1828 Fri 1st March 02 £ 102750.00
Violin 1832 Thu 1st November 01 £ 120000.00
Violin 1831 Thu 1st March 01 £ 177500.00
Violin 1835 c. (composite) Mon 1st November 99 £ 40000.00
Cello 1854 Sun 1st March 98 £ 205000.00
Violin 1836 Tue 1st July 97 £ 84000.00
Violin 1825 Fri 1st November 96 £ 89500.00
Violin 1832 Fri 1st March 96 £ 128000.00
Violin 1837 Fri 1st March 96 £ 97750.00
Violin 1833 Wed 1st March 95 £ 124700.00
Violin 1831 Wed 1st June 94 £ 161000.00
Violin 1839 Sun 1st November 92 £ 82500.00
Violin 1833 Sun 1st November 92 £ 74800.00
Violin 1835 Fri 1st June 90 £ 36300.00
Violin 1837 Fri 1st June 90 £ 60500.00
Cello 1845 Wed 1st November 89 £ 105600.00
Violin 1834 Wed 1st November 89 £ 66000.00
Violin 18-- Wed 1st November 89 £ 27500.00
Violin 1847 Wed 1st November 89 £ 71500.00
Violin 1831 Wed 1st November 89 £ 66000.00
Violin 1827 Tue 1st November 88 £ 77000.00
Violin 1846 Sun 1st November 87 £ 42900.00
Violin 1829 Wed 1st April 87 £ 56100.00
Violin 1828 Sat 1st November 86 £ 19250.00
Violin 1835 Thu 1st May 86 £ 38500.00
Violin 1829 Mon 1st July 85 £ 33000.00
Violin 1840 Fri 1st June 84 £ 28519.00
Viola 38.4 cm 1837 Mon 1st March 82 £ 9167.00
Violin Mon 11th May 15 £ 37.00

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