Nicolò Amati Violoncello: the "Herbert"

Nicolò Amati Violoncello: the "Herbert"

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This violoncello was made by Nicolò Amati in Cremona, Italy, 1677. It is the Herbert violoncello with a two-piece spruce top of medium to wide grained with wings to the flanks, two-piece back of quarter sawn poplar, ribs of maple cut on the slab, and scroll (probably by a later hand) of maple cut on the quarter. The golden-brown is applied over a golden ground. There is an original printed label inside the instrument:

Nicolaus Amatus Cremonen. Hieronymi
Fil. ac Antonij Nepos Fecit. 1677

[“77” is handwritten]

Beginning in the late 19th century, this violoncello was owned for some fifty years by Mr. George Herbert, an amateur musician of London, and today bears his name to help trace its history. It was acquired by the violin dealer Emil Herrmann who assembled a quartet of Amati instruments (the 1656 King Louis XIV and the 1672 Florian Zajic violins, the 1663 Professor Wirth viola, and the 1677 Herbert violoncello) for Mrs. Anna E. Clark. She lent them to the Loewenguth Quartet of Brussels before bequeathing the quartet to the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington DC. The Corcoran loaned the quartet to the Claremont String Quartet of the North Carolina School of the Arts, and in 1975, to the Tokyo String Quartet, and then to the Takács Quartet before selling them to Dr. Herbert Axelrod in 1998.

Object Name
Date made
Amati, Nicolo
place made
Italy: Lombardy, Cremona
Physical Description
spruce (overall material)
poplar (overall material)
maple (overall material)
overall:: 49 in x 17 7/8 in x 10 in; 124.46 cm x 45.4025 cm x 25.4 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of Evelyn and Herbert R. Axelrod
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Musical Instruments
Music & Musical Instruments
North Music Lobby
Exhibition Location
National Museum of American History
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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