Daniel Achatius Stadlemann, 1680-1744

Daniel Achatius Stadlemann (1680-1744) is probably the most gifted luthier in Venice in the early 18th century. He imitated Stainer models, created proportional instruments with average-sized arches. The quality of the wood he used for the front pieces is superb, and the arches of the back are slightly less prominent than those of the front. Regardless of whether they are single or double pieces, the grains of the wood are quite intriguing. He often used bird’s eye maple. Stadlemann also made violins with double purfling, but what is most praise-worthy is his varnish techniques. The texture of the varnishes is quite meticulous and aesthetically pleasing. Stadlemann usually used a dark yellow, amber, brownish yellow or reddish orange varnish, representative of the early Venetian luthiers. Although his instruments are not capable of getting very loud, their timbre is rich, balanced, warm and gentle. This sort of Stainer violin has been well-received among Austrian musicians.

Johann Georg Thir, 1710-1781

Johann Georg Thir (1710-1781) was the greatest luthier in his entire family, and also a very important violin maker in the Venetian school. Thir began making violins in 1738 in Venice, following the long-style Stainer models. The violins he made have long narrow bodies with relatively prominent arches. The carving of the scrolls is quite exquisite, and the shape of the f-holes is gorgeous; however, they are positioned slightly closer together than usual.

Thir’s use of varnish can be divided into three periods. From 1738-1750 he used a deep and cumbersome brown. From 1750-1760, he liked using a golden layer on the bottom, and then added a transparent brown on top. In his later years, he mostly used a golden layer on the bottom and a bright cherry red layer on top. These instruments are worth more than his earlier works. Like many of the Venetian luthiers, he would also dye the instrument first, which makes the color of his early instruments become deeper as time passes.

Thir’s workshop was taken over by his student Franz Geissenhof in 1781. Geissenhof used Thir’s labels on his instruments until 1791.

Franz Geisssenhof, 1754-1821

Franz Geissenhof (1754-1821) was a great luthier in the Venetian school of violin making. He continued the traditions of his teacher Johann Georg Thir. Besides incorporating Thir’s style into his instruments, he also used Amati and Stradivari models, and occasionally made replicas of violins made by Gasparo Bertolotti da Salò (1540-1609) and Giovanni Paolo Maggini (c.1580 - c.1630).

During the first phase of his violin making career (1780-1790), the arches of the instruments are average, showing that he was influenced by the Bohemian school. The varnishes he chose were similar to those of Thir, usually a dark brownish red color. During the second phase of Geissenhof’s career (1790-1800), he made violins with relatively flat arches, wood with a lot of grains for the faces, and a more transparent varnish. In the third phase (1800-1800), his craftsmanship had reached a very high level. The carving of the scroll is exquisite, and the quality of the wood is superior. The varnishes he used during this period are redder than previous periods. His soundholes are outstanding, displaying a Stradivari style, with a very elegant contrast between the middle of the f-holes and the curves. During his last phase (1810-1821), Geissenhof used a radiant varnish, and it is said that prior to applying the varnish, he used a special method of soaking the wood in limestone water. On the plates he would apply a substance using his on secret recipe, which produced a shiny effect.

Geissenhof ushered in a new era for the Venetian school. As a pioneer, he led Austrian luthiers to forsake their habit of following the standards of Füssen, and instead mimicking the Cremona violin makers. He also raised the status of luthiers locally. He was an important luthier in fusing together the Venetian and Hungarian schools, taking Venetian knowledge to Hungary, which influenced the Hungarian school.