$350,000 viola promises sweet music in New York

Christie's spring sale of Fine Musical Instruments in New York on April 28 will present an exciting and extensive range of stringed instruments including a fine selection of bows.  Of the 159 lots, the sale will lead with a rare viola by Gasparo Bertolotti da Salò and an exquisite violin by Giovanni Baptista.

It is extremely rare for a viola by Gasparo Bertolotti da Salò, a celebrated 16th century maker from Brescia Italy to come to the market.

However, that is not the only factor which makes the piece, circa 1575, so collectible, as it was also the primary instrument used by violist David Kates (1910-2004) throughout his prolific career. The valuable piece is presented here with an estimate of $250,000-350,000.

Kates' talent as a violist and this instrument's tonal quality became one of the facets of the New York Philharmonic's unique sound for most of the 43 years he occupied the section. Upon his death in 2004, the viola had remained solely in the possession of his family.

Gasparo Bertolotti da Salò Viola
Gasparo Bertolotti da Salò Viola

Giovanni Baptista Guadagnini is considered one of the finest violin makers of the 18th century and known as the last great classically trained violin maker of the Northern Italian School.

The violin offered was made in Milan, circa 1753 and has an exceptionally strong provenance and functioned as a staple in the renowned careers of violinists James William Briggs, Margaret Horne and Viola Mitchell Fearnside. Its guide price here is $350,000-450,000.

Additional highlights include a violin by Carlo Giuseppe Testore, Milan, circa 1701 (estimate: $60,000-80,000); a violin by Simone Fernando Sacconi, 1971 (expected to bring $30,000-50,000); and a violoncello attributed to the Emilia Romagna School in Italy (valued at $20,000-30,000).

This season will once again feature an impressive selection of bows from a single owner collection.

The works span the 19th to 20th centuries and include many of the marquee names of the French, English and German schools of bow making.

Among the most noteworthy made by French bow-maker Dominque Peccatte is a silver-mounted violoncello bow, circa 1848 and a silver-mounted violin bow, circa 1845 (estimated at $40,000-60,000 and $30,000-50,000 respectively).

A gold-mounted violin bow by Joseph Alfred Lamy, France, circa 1889 and a silver-mounted violin bow by Jacob Eury, France, circa 1810-1820 ($10,000-15,000 and $8,000-10,000) will also feature.

The pieces can be viewed at Christie's Rockefeller Galleries from April 24-27 and the auction beings at 10am.


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