Made only two years after Le lever du soleil, the Hellier, though showing the same decorative arrangement and top quality materials, differs from the previous violin for the use of a larger-sized form for its construction. Simone Fernando Sacconi, one of the 20th century leading experts on Stradivari’s work, defined the Hellier as “Stradivari’s most precious inlaid instrument”. If we consider the ten known surviving decorated instruments by Stradivari, we can make a classification according to the technique used for the ribs and head ornamentation; the decorations of the top and back plates were instead made with the same procedure for all the ten instruments by using an alternation of ivory circles and diamond-shaped pieces inserted between two purfling lines and fixed with black mastic probably obtained by mixing ebony dust and glue. As regards the ribs and head,
the ornamentation was painted with varnish on the Rode, 1722 violin as well as on the viola and cello currently kept in the Royal Palace in Madrid; as to the other instruments- the 1677 violin, the Hellier, the Cipriani Potter, the Ole Bull, the two violins of the Spanish quartet and the Greffuhle - the technique of the inlay in a non-perforated channel was used. The design was transferred on wood with the aid of paper patterns on which the ornamentation was traced by a sequence of tiny holes; then, the tracing on wood was dusted with graphite powder, and finally, after having connected the single points with lines, the gouge was made with cutting tools and filled with black mastic. The decorations of these instruments are characterized by floral scrollworks, flowers, buds and animals; on our two violins, it is also possible to glimpse a small snake between petals and leaves. The museum in Cremona exhibits proofs as well as paper patterns used for the construction of the inlaid violins. The violin was named after his first, lucky owner. It is said, in fact, that Sir Samuel Hellier, of British origins, bought the instrument directly from Antonio Stradivari in 1734.
Antonins Stradiuarius Cremonensis / Faciebat Anno 1679
Like the Sunrise violin, the Hellier shows the name of the maker Antonius erroneously printed as Antonins on its label.
W. E. Hill & Sons, London, January 21, 1957
Rembert Wurlitzer, New York, January 18, 1957
Machold Rare Violins, Bremen, Zurich, New York, Vienna, April 27, 1998
On loan from the Collection of Dr. Herbert R. and Evelyn Axelrod