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Join a world class team of tree ring detectives and learn how tree rings affirmed the authenticity of the $20 million dollar worth elusive and controversial violin, the Stradivari’s “Messiah”.
Faculty Seminar: Paolo Cherubini
UBC Faculty of Forestry is pleased to invite tree & music lovers to reveal the mystery date of the Stradivari's "Messiah" violin creation.
Musical string instruments: Dating the tree rings of their fronts to verify their authenticity
Presented by: Dr. Paolo Cherubini

Authenticity is the prime factor affecting the market value of a work of art. String instruments are among the most valued works of art, particularly those made by the old violin-making masters of northern Italy in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. However, it is difficult to verify the authenticity of string instruments on the basis of style and design alone, as these are often forged. Uncertainties related to authorship can lead to financial and legal controversy, sometimes with even millions of dollars at stake.
The authenticity of the Stradivari “Messiah” has long been disputed. Controversies at the end of the 1990s concerning its authorship have enhanced interest in dating this violin. After different dendrochronological analyses provided conflicting tree-ring dates for the front of the violin, a scientifically-sound dendrochronological study eventually established 1682 as terminus post quem, i.e., the year when the last ring of the violin front was formed, before which the violin could not have been made. This date is consistent with the attributed date of manufacture, 1716, supporting Antonio Stradivari as the maker of the “Messiah”. However, this controversial dating of the “Messiah” sent shockwaves through the violin community. Here, we present the main facts which played a role in this controversy and we show how dangerous the use of dendrochronology can be if investigators do not adhere to well-established techniques and are not versed scholars in the literature.

May 16, 2022 01:00 PM in Pacific Time (US and Canada)

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