A fantastic violin by Matthew Hardie, Edinburgh, Scotland, circa 1812. The sound is robust, rich, smooth, with a soloistically capable low end, and a colorful, focused high end with a bell like sustain and ring.Length of Back 357mmUpper Bout 16.8cmMiddle Bout 10.95cmLower Bout 20.5cmHardie is dubbed the "Scottish Stradivari" as an influential maker for his time and region in history. A certificate of authenticity accompanies the violin by David Rattray, the authority and publisher of research on historical makers from Scotland.Maker's Biographical Information:Matthew Hardie's (1755-1826) reputation as the "Scottish Stradivari" is often difficult to take back while looking at his output. He is the Scottish maker where a consistent body of instruments survive. His work inspired numerous followers in the generation after, more or less opening up the craft of violin making in Scotland. There are other Scottish violins of the period are quite close in quality as those made by Hardie, but because of his reputation and output, he can be considered the ‘father’ of the Edinburgh tradition of violin making. Many of the best violins made in Scotland were made by Hardie, but overall his reputation as the "Scottish Stradivari" is closer evident only in his very best work.Hardie’s own life could be paralleled as a adventure story, having commercial success and fame to poverty, a debtor’s prison and a pauper’s grave, and the quality of his instruments reflect his varied fortunes throughout his life. Hardie also worked at a time when there was small supply of imported lower grade instruments, going against a fairly high demand for violins from all over Scotland. Makers from across the country produced semi rough violins, with a penchant for local and cheap making sustained long after inexpensive factory violins became available across the British lands from imports. Instead, seeing this end of the market as a less arduous way of making money, Hardie had a good business sense in making a few speedy instruments each year that he could sell cheaper and more quickly. It is easy to see that these so called "debtor’s prison" violins were made from very basic materials, yet the spirit of a well to do craftsman means that beyond the lesser visual looks, the quality of sound in these instruments can rival tonally well above their price points. Hardie’s lesser instruments are romantically linked to his time in a debtor’s prison, but they were also probably made each year to satisfy the lower end of the market. The varnish is very basic, and inked or drawn in purfling is typical. They were made of native woods that include old spruce that had worm repairs from before it was made into an instrument.Hardie's better output demonstrates a good relationship with the London trade, earning an equal footing reputation along with London’s leading makers of the period, with high demand for Hardie's work amongst modern professional players. These instruments follow closely the designs and ideas of the Betts workshop and the many middle range instruments being made in London by maker families' instruments whose was based on mainly upon Stradivarius concepts that were easy to produce at a high quality with plenty of individuality. At times Hardie occasionally would go out of his way to make an instrument more special. These violins are rare, with approximately a dozen only that exist from a total output of hundreds of instruments, but these examples establish Matthew Hardie as one of the earliest British makers to consciously copy Stradivari’s work.
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