Tononi Violincello (baroque)

Tononi Violincello (baroque)

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This violoncello was made by Joannes Baptista Tononi in Bologna, Italy, in 1740. It is a baroque violoncello made of a two-piece table of spruce, two-piece back of maple cut at 45o with even, medium-fine descending figure, ribs of similar maple, original fine figured maple neck, pegbox and scroll. This instrument has an original printed label:

Joannes Baptiƒta De Tononis
fecie Bononiæ 1740

This is the only instrument known to us labeled J.B. Tononi. No biographical evidence has emerged linking him to other members of the famous Tononi violin making family in Bologna. This instrument can be most closely linked to the latter output of Joannes Tononi, who died around 1705.

The instrument was left untouched until recovered in the late 1960s from a Parisian family that had stored it as a stage prop in their private theater. It is rich in original features, retaining the neck and pegs in unaltered condition. The obvious twisting in the neck and pegbox was caused by the maker’s difficulty in setting the neck height, length and direction. X-ray examination has shown an original wedge placed under the neck-foot to tilt the neck toward the treble side of the table. The bassbar is modern. The body and varnish are in an excellent state of preservation.

Currently not on view
Currently not on view (bridge; ivory nute; pegs; saddle; soundpost; tailpiece)
Object Name
date made
place made
Italy: Emilia-Romagna, Bologna
Physical Description
spruce (overall material)
maple (overall material)
overall: 46 3/4 in x 16 in x 8 1/2 in; 118.745 cm x 40.64 cm x 21.59 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Musical Instruments
Music & Musical Instruments
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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