Ref :   0606

A good English viola by
(1853 - 1927)
Leeds, 1908

Thomas J. Bellingham (1853 - 1927) lived and worked in Leeds and came to violinmaking only late in life - he began this craft in 1902, at the age of 49. In a newpaper interview from about 1915 it appears that he had at that stage made 43 violins, 4 violas and 3 cellos. In his lifetime he completed 90 violins.

He used no templates in his work and arching was cut freehand. Scrolls and f-holes are always neat and crisp. The same newpaper article says that Bellingham used no assistants and did all his own work. Because of his intuitive freehand approach each instrument is highly individualistic. The great violinst, Fritz Kreisler, and also Sir Edward Elgar commented favorably on him.

This viola was recently brought from England, and is characteristic of Bellingham's work. What strikes one immediately is the beautiful one-piece back and the extremely attractive red varnish - transparent and favoring clear observation of the wood. The scroll is beautifully elegant and f-holes are well-proportioned and crisp. Purfling is nicely traced and shows a masterful and confident hand. This is altogether a very good-looking instrument.

Bellingham had the habit of dedicating each of his instruments to a noteworthy person whom he felt would appreciate the quality of the instrument. He did this with their permission. It appears that Bellingham was a freemason - this viola has the masonic emblem for lodge 1221 glued into tbe back and also has the following inscribed by hand in the back: 'Respectfully dedicated to the Worshipfull Masters, Officers and Brethren of Defence Lodge 1221, Leeds. April 1908. T. J. Bellingham. 47 Franer's Str. Leeds.'. It also bears Bellingham's label.

The tone is responsive and warm - a very pleasing instrument from every perspective.


Dimensions :
  Back length: 40 cm. Testatura: 35.7 cm

Condition Report :
  This instrument is in mint condition, free from repairs and cracks. Varnish original. New rosewood pegs were fitted recently.

Provenance :

Price : Withheld


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