Instruments Owned by Nippon Music Foundation

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Guarneri del Gesu

Guarneri del Gesù 1740 Violin


  • “Ysaÿe”
  • “Ysaÿe”
  • “Ysaÿe”


This violin bears the name “Ysaÿe” from the Belgian virtuoso, Eugène Ysaÿe (1858-1931) who used it as his concert instrument for many years. The inscription inside the violin, written in French with red ink, reads “This Del Gesù was the faithful companion of my career. Ysaÿe 1928”. It is well-known for having taken part in the procession of Ysaÿe’s state funeral, being carried on a pillow in front of the virtuoso’s coffin. Before Ysaÿe, it belonged to the Count Baldeschi, the English collector Mr. John Adam and Mr. Charles Wilmotte, collector and amateur of Antwerp. At the request of the dealer Gand et Bernardel, Mr. Wilmotte sold the violin in Paris in 1889 to the father of Miss Carry Mess, who was a pupil of Ysaÿe and married his brother Théo. In 1896, the violin was passed to her brother-in-law Eugène Ysaÿe. Jeanette Dinsin, Ysaÿe’s pupil whom he married in 1929, inherited the violin and later sold it to the conductor Charles Münch (1891-1968). Despite the wish expressed by Ysaÿe that the violin remain in Belgium, it was sold to Mr. Henry Hottinger by the dealer Emil Herrmann of New York. In 1965, it was acquired by the renowned violinist Isaac Stern (1920-2001) and became his primary concert instrument throughout his life. In March 1995, Nippon Music Foundation acquired the violin from Isaac Stern.


The back is in one piece of maple, marked by a strong small curl ascending to the right. The sides are marked by a varying, mainly medium curl. That of the scroll is similar. The table is of two pieces of spruce marked by very fine grain at the center, opening towards the flanks. The varnish is orange-red in color on a golden ground. The most striking feature of this violin is the magnificent chipped and mottled varnish of the back.


Guarneri del Gesu 1740 Violin “Ysaye”

October 9, 1965 Rembert Wurlitzer Inc., to Isaac Stern
April 1, 1958 Emil Harmann, to Charles Munch (copy)
July 29, 1938 Albert Caressa, to Charles Munch
November 8, 1937 Albert Caressa, to Madame Charles Munch


Guarneri del Gesu 1740 Violin “Ysaye”

March 11, 1998 Andrew Hill, Report to Nippon Music Foundation
December 29, 1965 Issac Stern, Letter to Jacques Francais (copy)
October 14, 1965 Jacques Francais, Letter to Issac Stern(copy)
January 23 & 24, 1936 Albert Caressa, History & Description letters

“Violin Iconography of Antonio Stradivari: 1644-1737” by H. K. Goodkind (P660)
“The Violin Masterpieces of Guarneri del Gesu” by Peter Biddulph (P48-49)
“The Henry Hottinger Collection” by Rembert Wurlitzer Incorporated 
“The Violin Maker of the Guarneri Family (1626-1762)” by W. E. Hill & Sons (P87-88, P100-103)

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