Page:A Dictionary of Music and Musicians vol 2.djvu/176

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164
LONDON VIOLIN-MAKERS.
 

rise among Parisian dealers to the practice, which has of late years made its way to England, of labelling them 'Gaspar di Salo.' Few Pamphilon labels exist; and nothing will persuade the Parisian connoisseur that these instruments are not veritable relics of some pre-Cremonese Italian school. Nothing, however, is more certain than that they were made when the last of the Amatis was an ancient man, and when the geometrical pattern was going out of fashion in Italy itself. Like those of Joseph Guarnerius, the works of Pamphilon are fashioned directly by hand, without the intervention of a model or mould. Often they are of stiff and graceless outline; sometimes they show curves of bold and free design, and are wrought out with scrupulous care and delicacy. In his more artistic moments, Pamphilon was fond of finishing the sound-holes with a drawn-out curl, resembling the volute of a scroll; and the bottom curve of the sound-hole runs out at something like a right angle to the axis of the fiddle. The heads are too small, a fault which is shared by all the old English makers from Rayman to Banks: they are, however, artistically shaped, and often deeply scooped in the volute. The works of Pamphilon are covered with fine yellow oil varnish, which presents a most attractive appearance. They are not difficult to be met with: the writer has casually entered the shop of a country dealer, and found three excellent ones for sale at low prices. The tenors are small, but of a good tenor tone. No Pamphilon violoncello is known to exist. The bass-viol, with flat back, was still in fashion. Barak Norman (1688–1740), a maker of eminence only inferior to Pamphilon, followed the Italians in extending the violin type to the bass instrument, and producing the violoncello. It is evident from his works that he had seen foreign instruments. His early years were chiefly employed in the construction of viols; and his first productions of the violin kind show a resemblance to Urquhart. Gradually he produced tenors and violoncellos of the new model, on most of which his monogram, elaborately wrought, is to be found. Norman became about 1715 a partner with Nathaniel Cross at the 'Bass Viol' in St. Paul's Churchyard. His works are always in request among connoisseurs. That the Early English school had its offshoots in the country is proved by the works of Thomas Duke, of Oxford (1720). None of these makers were influenced by the pattern of Stainer, which ultimately displaced the old English type of violin, as completely as the violin had displaced the viol.

2. School of Stainer-copyists (1700–1750). The bright and easily-produced tones yielded by the Stainer model, soon made it popular in England, and the London makers vied with each other in reproducing it. The first and best of the Stainer-copyists is Peter Wamsley, of the Golden Harp in Piccadilly (1710–1734). The workmanship of Wamsley varies: like most of his successors, he made instruments of three or four qualities, probably at prices to correspond. The finer specimens of his work, well finished, and covered with a certain thick and brilliant red varnish, which he could make when he pleased, do high credit to the London school. He did not despise viol-making; nor, on the other hand, did he confine himself to the imitation of Stainer. Both he and Thomas Barrett, of the Harp and Crown in Piccadilly (1710–1730), tried their hands at free imitations of Stradivarius. Joseph Hare (1720–1726) did the same. Barrett was a more mechanical workman than Wamsley, and used a thin yellow varnish. Between 1730 and 1770 the majority of the violins produced in England were imitations of Stainer, somewhat larger, and covered with a thin greyish yellow varnish: one or two makers only used better varnish, of a brown or dullish red colour. Among the makers were Thomas Cross (1720), the partner of Barak Norman, who used a + as a device: John Johnson of Cheapside (1750–1760): Thomas Smith, a capital maker of large solid instruments on the Stainer model, who succeeded to the business of Wamsley at the 'Golden Harp' in Piccadilly (1740–1790), and Robert Thompson, at the 'Bass Violin' in St. Paul's Churchyard (1749), where he was succeeded by his sons Charles and Samuel (1770–1780). To these may be added Edward Heesom (1748); Edward Dickenson, at the Harp and Crown in the Strand; and John Norris and Robert Barnes (1760–1800), who worked together in Great Windmill Street, and in Coventry Street, Piccadilly. William Forster also began with the Stainer pattern. [See Forster, William].

3. School of Amati-Copyists. Foremost among these stands Benjamin Banks (1750–1795). He learnt the trade in the workshop of Wamsley; and though he early migrated to Salisbury, where he spent the greater part of his life, belongs in all respects to the London school. He followed Daniel Parker (1740–1785) in breaking the spell of Stainer, and seriously imitating the style of Nicholas Amati. Banks copied that maker with great fidelity. Though his violins are less in request, his tenors and basses, of which he made large numbers, are excellent instruments, and produce good prices. He used a fine rich varnish, in several tints, yellow, red, and brown. His son Benjamin returned to London: two other sons, James and Henry, carried on his business at Salisbury, but at length migrated to Liverpool. Joseph Hill (1760–1780), at the 'Harp and Flute' in the Haymarket, and a fellow-apprentice with Banks in the shop of Wamsley, made solid instruments which are still in request, but adhered less strictly to the Amati model. Edward Aireton, another alumnus of Wamsley's, worked on this model. But the chief of the older Amati-copyists is the celebrated Richard Duke of Holborn (1760–1780). Duke's high reputation amongst English fiddlers is amply justified by his works, which must be carefully distinguished from the myriad nondescripts to which his name has been nefariously affixed. 'When a really fine specimen of Duke,' says Mr. Hart, 'is once seen, it is not likely to be forgotten. As