Ref :   0997

A very good viola by
Jacobus Jan VAN DE GEEST
(1899 - 1974)
Johannesburg, 1954

This viola won the Gold Medal during the 1954 Exposition in Liège, Belgium.

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This viola was part of the String Quartet made by J. J. van de Geest which won the Gold Medal with Highest Distinction at the Liège exhibition in Belgium in 1954. The two violins are today in professional use and the cello is in possession of the Van de Geest family in London.

This viola disappeared for several years and was recently discovered in Johannesburg. It is structurally in impeccable condition and other than some marks, scratches and general wear in the varnish, the only detractor is the wing crack in the treble F, now secured.

This is an unusually large viola. With a back length of 43.4 cm (17 inches) and very deep ribs (4.55 cm), it would require a person with a suitable physique to play it. It is a superb instrument from every perspective - the two piece back, ribs, neck and scroll are of well-figured maple with an even medium curl. The top is of excellent tone-spruce with medium to fine growth lines. Workmanship throughout is impeccable. The varnish is reddish brown over a yellow ground. The viola still has van de Geest's original bridge and sound-post. Other than this maker's known label in the usual place, this viola is branded on the inside of the top under the fingerboard.

Jacobus Jan van de Geest (1899 - 1974) completed his apprenticeship under the master, Eugen Eberle. Then, for 18 years he was Master Craftsman and Chef d'atelier for London's most important violin company - Hart & Son, under George Hart. Here he was in charge of assessments and repairs to the world's finest instruments. In London (and in fact in all of England and elsewhere) he established a reputation for supreme expertise and craftsmanship that stood him to credit for the rest of his life. When Hart & Son closed down in 1938, Van de Geest emigrated to Johannesburg, where he became the most important single force in South Africa's violin world at that time. He maintained his privileged relations with European experts and continued importing some of the finest violins available in Europe to his shop in Johannesburg. Many fabulous Cremonese and other instruments of great master violinmakers of the past made their way to South Africa through J. J. van de Geest's work.

As violinmaker, J. J. van de Geest's personal output was of the highest order, conforming to the highest standards of the craft. Also in 1949 he won a gold medal in the Exposition of Liège. The great violinist and teacher, Carl Flesch, played on a Van de Geest and referred to him as "The wonderful Dutchman". Van de Geest produced a constant output of instruments by his own hand.

This viola is a testimony of this great Dutch maker at the peak of his powers and represents one of his finest achievements. It is an exceptionally well-toned instrument which deserves to be in the hands of an superb and demanding musician.


Dimensions :
  Length of back: 43.4 cm (17 inches)
Height of ribs: 4.55 cm (1.79 inch) all round.

Condition :
  Structurally in superb condition.
Marks and wear in the varnish are superficial. A wingcrack to the treble F is now secured.

Provenance :
  This viola disappeared for several years and was recently discovered in Johannesburg.
Ownership withheld

Price : P.O.A.


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