Amati Violin, the "King Louis XIV"

Description (Brief)
This violin was made by Nicolo Amati in Cremona, Italy in 1656. Nicolo Amati (1596–1684) was from the third generation of the famous Amati family in Cremona. The son of Hieronymous I, he is commonly regarded as the greatest maker of the family. Nicolo took over the business on his father’s death in 1630, a time when Cremona was devastated by famine followed by the plague. The only remaining maker of any consequence in Italy, his survival assured the craft of violin making in Cremona would endure.
In 1949 Emil Herrmann writes that “the back and table are decorated with double purfling and inlaid fleur de lys which, on the table, are inset with rubies and emeralds,” and this violin “was made to order for the Royal Family of France, most probably for King Louis XIV.” Computed Tomography scans indicate these gem stones are actually the density of glass, and while it now bears the Louis XIV attribution assigned by Herrmann, there is no documentation of the violin’s association to French royalty.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Date made
Amati, Nicolo
overall: 24 in x 8 3/8 in x 3 1/2 in; 60.96 cm x 21.2725 cm x 8.89 cm
Place Made
Italia: Lombardia, Cremona
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Music & Musical Instruments
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Musical Instruments
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of Evelyn and Herbert R. Axelrod
Additional Media

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