Andrea’s sons Antonio and Girolamo continued the activity of their father’s workshop, and had to take over the great responsibility of keeping up with the role that the first Amati had played throughout the 16th century as well as keeping the household together. The two brothers appeared to live in harmony until 1588 when a period of strained relations between them started. Girolamo asked Antonio to give back the share of his two wives’ dowry he had been recognized before. Antonio did not have the money required or perhaps he was already planning to leave his brother: his final decision was thus to hand over to Girolamo his share of the family house located in the quarter known as “isola”. Despite this, the ragion cantante - the workshop’s brand - remained the same: in fact, just a few Amati instruments bear the name of Antonio alone and just a few more are labeled only with the name of his brother. Girolamo continued to use the same label with both names “Antonius & Hieronymus Fr. Amati” even after the death of Antonio in 1607: in fact, the original label of the 1615 viola bears this inscription. A few years later, an entry in the deceased register of the San Faustino parish recorded four deaths in the Amati family on the same day in 1630, including Girolamo and his wife Laura: it would be his son Nicolo, who had survived the great plague epidemic, to carry on the family business and become the most influential figure of Cremonese lutherie well into the 17th century.
The instrument was played for more than thirty years by Henry Danks, leading viola of the London BBC Symphony Orchestra, who had bought it in 1962. That same year, an expertise certificate was released by W. E. Hill & Sons, who had bought and re-sold the instrument more than once in previous years. The instrument – the earliest known alto viola built in Cremona – was purchased by the Centro di Musicologia “Walter Stauffer” in May 1996.
Antonius & Hieronymus Fr. Amati / Cremonen. Andrea fil. F. 1615
W. E. Hill & Sons, London, December 19, 1962
John & Arthur Beare, London, May 2, 1996
Purchased by Centro di Musicologia “Walter Stauffer” of Cremona in 1996