Monday 20 June 2011

Lady in waiting

Time's almost up in the auction of the year.  Bidding for the Lady Blunt Stradivari violin of 1721 ends at 7.30pm today (BST), though as of 1pm today, the action has yet to begin.  It's hoped that it will raise more than $10 million for the Japanese earthquake relief effort, though its sale has hardly come at the most boyant of economic moments.

Tarisio, the auction house, is taking bids on a range of instruments from potential buyers all over the world, but the lots were today assembled in London and Devil's Trill paid them a visit.  The viewing took place in the rather plush setting of a central London hotel, with Tarisio operating from a second floor room overlooking Conduit Street.  The Lady Blunt was immediately obvious on leaving the lift, protected in a glass case at the centre of the room with light streaming in the large windows behind.  I was a little surprised that the other instruments, with values ranging from £1000 to £120,000) were simply displayed on open tables (don't worry, Devil's Trill didn't touch).  The Lady Blunt herself was every bit as unspoiled as Tarisio's extensive photographs suggested, and perhaps a little more so than the Royal Academy of Music's Viotti Strad of 1709, which is also reputed to be one of the best preserved.  The varnish of the Lady Blunt looked, if anything, a little redder than the Viotti's, though the difference in presentation (the LB in full sunlight, the Viotti in the RAM's light-controlled museum) made it difficult to be sure.

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