We offer this two-hundred-year-old violin attributed to Lorenzo Ventapane of Naples, Italy c. 1820. The instrument bears his label and the features prominent in violin construction of the locale and time period.
Lorenzo Ventapane is generally considered to be one of the most important of the Neopolitan makers outside the Gaglinao family. He is believed to have trained with one of the Gaglianos, perhaps Giavanni or his son Niocola II and Ventapane instruments bear a strong resemblance in construction and varnish to those of the Gaglianos. Specific Ventapane features include upright f-holes and a slightly oversized eye at the scroll and often a reddish-brown hue to the mineral grind below the varnish.
This instrument has had an interesting history. Family lore from the prior owner has the violin finding its way to a teacher at the conservatory in Budapest Hungary, who then gifted it to a child prodigy student. The student later had to be smuggled out of Hungary during the Nazi era because of her Jewish heritage. The Student and the violin found their way to Paris and eventually to the United States where she played it up and down the eastern seaboard for many years, even appearing once at the White House. During her old age, the violin fell into disrepair and disuse.
The instrument has now been lovingly restored to modern paying specifications by the renowned violin maker and restorer R. J. Storm. Mr. Storm has been working with violins for over three decades after having apprenticed with Carlos Arcieri, of New York City whose reputation in the field made him the go-to violin restorer for the New York Philharmonic's masterpiece instruments. Because of this, Mr. Storm's hands have been graced to assist in the repair of some of the world's finest violins such as genuine Stradevari, Guarneri and Amati. R. J. Storm's columns on the subject of construction and restoration can now be seen regularly in the international publication Fiddler Magazine. R. J.'s restoration to the Ventapane was multifaceted and included repairs to the top, ribs and edges, installation of a bass bar suitable for the pressure of modern strings and various cosmetic work. As might be expected, the instrument has also had a neck graft at some point in its lifetime. It is now in very good playing condition and is fully restored following the aesthetics of its original Gagliano school maker.
The instrument presents with a warm, full tone with a pleasing resonance in all registers. It supplies plenty of volume and creates carrying tones suitable for a concert soloist or the experienced student ready to take on their lifetime instrument.