Violin by Giuseppe Guarneri, Cremona, ca. 1730, "Kreisler." Performing Arts Reading Room, Library of Congress.
Fritz Kreisler acquired this violin from the Hills in 1926; they had long regarded it as among the finest works of Guarneri's early years. The violin was described in Hills'1931 opus, The Violin-makers of the Guarneri Family (1626-1762): Their Life and Work. Prior to Kreisler's acquisition, the violin had an especially colorful history. It was first seized by the French in Madrid and then seized at sea by the English. Next, the violin was owned successively by a parson in Whitehaven; several gentlemen who cherished it throughout their lives--one of whom, William Thompson, marked out his appreciation by branding his initials on the pegbox; and two sisters who guarded it jealously and for many years refused to sell it. Eventually, the violin was bought by the collector John Mountford, who also owned the 1699 "Castelbarco" violin. Mountford kept the "Kreisler" for the rest of his life.
With the onset of World War II, Kreisler and many other European artists found refuge and a new home in the United States. In 1952, he presented this violin to the Library of Congress, showing his gratitude to his new home by this matchless gift.