Gemünder Violin

Description (Brief)
This violin was made by George Gemünder in Astoria, New York around 1868-1872. This Guarneri model violin, while worn from years of use, shows many elements of George Gemünder's talent in creating direct copies of old instruments. In the book that was both written and published by him in 1881, The Violin: George Gemünder's Progress in Violin Making (with Interesting Facts Concerning the Art and Its Critics in General), he related the experience of submitting one of his Guarneri model violins to the 1873 Vienna Exhibition:
“In the Exhibition of Vienna, my violin was mistaken for a genuine Cremonese violin, not only for its tone, but for its outer appearance which was so striking an imitation according to Joseph Guarnerius
that a newspaper of Vienna made the observation “George Gemünder cannot make us Germans believe that the violin sent by him is new. A bold Yankee, only, can put his name in a genuine instrument in order
to make himself renowned.”
This violin is made of one-piece table of spruce, two-piece back of maple cut on the quarter with an irregular broad ascending figure, ribs are of similar maple, the maple neck-graft terminates in the original maple pegbox and scroll, and a golden-orange varnish.
Description
George Gemünder (1816–1899) and his brothers Albert (b. 1818) and August (1814–1895) were born in Ingelfinger, Germany. Their father, Johan Georg Gemünder, was violin maker to Prince Hohenlohe of the Kingdom of Würtemberg, near Alsace. George travelled throughout Europe, and moved to Paris in 1843 to work for four years in the violin shop of J.B. Vuillaume. Meanwhile, Albert and August came to America and established an organ shop in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1846. George followed them to the Boston area in 1847, and spent five years there before establishing his violin making business in New York City.
George Gemünder specialized in models after Antonio Stradivari and Joseph Guarneri (del Gesu) and was known as one of America's greatest makers at the time, winning high awards at the London Exposition in 1851 and again at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition in 1876.
This Guarneri model violin, while worn from years of use, shows many elements of George Gemünder's talent in creating direct copies of old instruments. In the book that was both written and published by him in 1881, The Violin: George Gemünder's Progress in Violin Making (with Interesting Facts Concerning the Art and Its Critics in General), he related the experience of submitting one of his Guarneri model violins to the 1873 Vienna Exhibition:
In the Exhibition of Vienna, my violin was mistaken for a genuine Cremonese violin, not only for its tone, but for its outer appearance which was so striking an imitation according to Joseph Guarnerius that a newspaper of Vienna made the observation "George Gemünder cannot make us Germans believe that the violin sent by him is new. A bold Yankee, only, can put his name in a genuine instrument in order to make himself renowned."
Location
Currently not on view
Object Name
violin
Date made
1869-1872
maker
Gemunder, George
Physical Description
spruce (table material)
maple (back material)
Place Made
United States: New York, Queens, Astoria
ID Number
1980.0906.01
catalog number
1980.0906.01
accession number
1980.0906
subject
Violins
Music & Musical Instruments
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Musical Instruments
Violins
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
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