Top of page

Article Viola by Antonio Stradivari, Cremona, 1690, "Tuscan-Medici"

Image: Tuscan-Medici viola
Viola by Antonio Stradivari, Cremona, 1690, "Tuscan-Medici." Performing Arts Reading Room, Library of Congress.

Originally part of an ensemble made for the Grand Duke of Tuscany, Ferdinando de Medici, this 1690 viola eventually was separated from its brethren and sold in 1803 to an Englishman in Florence. Over the next 100 years, the viola landed in France, returned to England, and eventually made its way to New York City through the Rudolph Wurlitzer Company. In 1925 it was sold to Herbert N. Straus, a German whose family had founded the Macy's department store empire.

The arching of the "Tuscan-Medici" viola is high, rising to 19.5 mm on the back and 18.7 mm on the top, and retains the barrel shape common to Stradivari's work of the last decade of the 17th century. Dendrochronology dates the top wood, which has similar grain to other Stradivari works from the 1690s, to 1683.

The instrument has six-filled holes in the ribs below the saddle. These holes indicate that either the viola was at one time strung with more than four strings or that a unique type of tailpiece may have been attached to the bottom block at these points.

On the inside of the top in the treble upper bout, written in pen, is the inscription: The Medici Stradivari / AH June 1913. This corresponds with the Hills acquiring the viola from Mr. Avery Tyrell in 1913, the "AH" standing for Alfred Hill.

When the modern fingerboard was removed, the varnish was darker in an area that would have reflected the position of the original fingerboard. This area measured 78 mm down from the upper edge and was the same width as the modern fingerboard. The instrument had no varnish for a length of 60 mm from the end of the neck on account of Stradivari's method of varnishing with the fingerboard in place.

About this Item


  • Viola by Antonio Stradivari, Cremona, 1690, "Tuscan-Medici"


  • -  Articles
  • -  Songs and Music


  • article

Additional Metadata Formats

Rights & Access

The Library of Congress is providing access to these materials for educational and research purposes and makes no warranty with regard to their use for other purposes. The written permission of the copyright owners and/or other rights holders (such as holders of publicity and/or privacy rights) is required for distribution, reproduction, or other use of protected items beyond that allowed by fair use or other statutory exemptions. There may be content that is protected as "works for hire" (copyright may be held by the party that commissioned the original work) and/or under the copyright or neighboring-rights laws of other nations.

Responsibility for making an independent legal assessment of an item and securing any necessary permission ultimately rests with persons desiring to use the item. Users should consult the bibliographic information that accompanies each item for specific information. This catalog data provides the details known to the Library of Congress regarding the corresponding items and may assist users in making independent assessments of the legal status of these items as related to their desired uses.

Items included here with the permission of the rights holders are indicated as such in the bibliographic record for each item.

The Strad magazine has generously allowed us to reproduce two articles in this presentation: “Exhibition Report: Born in the USA” (July 2006) and “National Treasure” (November 2006).  Users may need to contact The Strad for any re-use of the articles.

In some cases, the Library was unable to identify a possible rights holder and has elected to place some of those items online as an exercise of fair use for strictly non-commercial educational uses. The Library of Congress would like to learn more about these materials and would like to hear from individuals or institutions that have any additional information or know of their history. Please contact:  Performing Arts Reading Room.

Suggested credit line: Library of Congress, Music Division.

Cite This Item

Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience, and may not be complete or accurate.

Chicago citation style:

Viola by Antonio Stradivari, Cremona, "Tuscan-Medici". Web..

APA citation style:

Viola by Antonio Stradivari, Cremona, "Tuscan-Medici". [Web.] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

Viola by Antonio Stradivari, Cremona, "Tuscan-Medici". Web.. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.