The name of Andrea Amati first appeared in a rental deed dated 1539 found in the town’s archives. The document stated that the magister, son of Gottardo, rented a house and workshop in the quarter known as “isola” where other great Cremonese makers would work in the following years. From 1566, Andrea built a whole orchestra of instruments for the French court’s dances. The last group of instruments was probably delivered in 1572, on the occasion of Charles IX’s marriage. Two centuries later, the fury of French revolutionaries did not spare the works of Andrea then preserved in Versailles: the set of instruments was dispersed and part of it lost forever. The back, scroll and ribs of the violin still show traces of the original decoration that has been slowly and relentlessly wiped away by time and use. On the ribs, a few gilded letters remain of the wording that could be read centuries ago: Pietate et Justit(c)ia, the motto of Charles IX, king of France and son of Caterina de’ Medici. The back shows just a faded trace of the painted decoration depicting the coat of arms of the French king flanked by the figures of Pity and Justice as well as beautiful crown-holding angels, which are still visible on the instruments housed in the Ashmolean Museum of Oxford and in the Tullie House Museum of Carlisle, Scotland. Other works made by the Cremonese magister in the same period show, on the back and ribs, the motto Quo unico propugnaculo stat stabique religio (that religion is and always shall be the only fortress) and the coat of arms of Philip II, Prince of Spain, a champion of Catholic orthodoxy.
Andrea died in 1577 after having defined the shape and proportion of the modern violin; his workshop was taken over by his sons Antonio and Girolamo. Some of his very few remaining instruments are currently preserved in important museums like the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, the National Music Museum in South Dakota and the Cite de la Musique in Paris.
Fait par Andre Amati en 1566 / sous la regne de Charles IX
Restaure par N. Lupot a Paris en 1818 - Attributed to Nicolas Lupot