Ref :   1068

A very good viola by
Jacobus Jan VAN DE GEEST
(1899 - 1974)
Johannesburg, 1961

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This superb viola made in 1961 appears to be an exact replica of the instrument J. J. van de Geest made in 1954, which won him a Gold Medal at the Exposition in Liège, Belgium, that same year. The two instruments have exactly the same dimensions, except that the 1954 viola (shown elsewhere on this site) is slightly deeper in the ribs.

Like its counterpart, this viola is exceptionally well-toned. It is a big instrument with a back length of 43.8 cm and was apparently commissioned from Van de Geest by 'a very large person', ostensibly by the musician who at that time also owned the 1954 viola. This can be deduced from the fact that both instruments show precisely the same wear patterns on the front and back, a consequence of holding the viola on the left knee whilst seated in an orchestra.

Both these violas are now together again and available through this dealership.

It appears that the same piece of wood was used to produce the two-piece back, ribs, neck and scroll - an attractive and well-figured maple with a distinct medium curl. The top is of excellent tone spruce with medium to fine growth lines. Workmanship throughout is impeccable, notably in the Fs, the purfling and corners. The scroll is superb. The oil varnish is red-brown with high transparency over a yellow orange. This viola is virtually in perfect condition.

Jacobus Jan van de Geest (1899-1974) was an important Dutch violinmaker who completed his apprenticeship in Holland under the great master, Eberle. He then settled in London where 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 of 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 from London to Johannesburg, where he became the most important single force in South Africa's violin world. 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 efforts. His personal output as violinmaker and his later contribution to the music life in South Africa cannot be overestimated. The great violinist and teacher, Carl Flesch, played on a Van de Geest and referred to him as 'The Wonderful Dutchman'.

This certainly is a professional career instrument of very high order.


Dimensions :
  Length of back: 43.8 cm

Condition :
  Other than wear in the varnish at the usual places and some superficial marks, this viola is virtually in perfect condition.

Provenance :

Price : On request


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