- Author: Antonio Stradivari
- Date: 1690
- Collection: MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS
- Technique: Spruce and maple
- Inventory: Inv. Cherubini 1988/34
This violoncello was made by Antonio Stradivari in 1690, along with the violins and the two violas (contralto and tenor) commissioned by the Cremona nobleman Bartolomeo Ariberti as a gift for the grand prince Ferdinando de’Medici, who was well known for his passion for music and a generous protector of promising young musicians and acclaimed virtuosos, as well as a shrewd patron of great composers, including Alessandro Scarlatti. As attested by the mother-of-pearl coat-of-arms, this instrument was part of the famed Medici Quintet, the second violin of which disappeared at the end of the 18th century. The materials used to make the violoncello and the other string instruments in the set were selected for their exceptional acoustic and aesthetic quality, as was befitting for a gift for a prince. The sound of the instruments in the quintet, and the violoncello in particular, was assessed in a letter written in 1690, in which we read that “all of the virtuosos [of the grand duke’s court] agree that they are perfect, but speaking in particular about the violoncello, they attest that it is at once the most pleasant and sonorous”. The violin and the contralto viola were taken from the grand ducal collection at the end of the 18th century, while the violoncello was lent out to court noblemen and musicians for them to play. It was returned in 1765 so that it could be restored by Lorenzo and Tommaso Carcassi.