The 1699 "Castelbarco" Cello by Antonio Stradivari, Cremona
Built in 1697, the “Castelbarco” is one of Antonio Stradivari’s best preserved cellos to have survived to this day.
Not to be confused with the “Fau, ex Castelbarco” cello, which was also originally owned by Italian Count Cesare Castelbarco, the “Castelbarco” is known to have been the most expensive item sold at the 1862 auction titled, “The Superb Collection of Cremona Instruments of the late Count Castelbarco, of Milan,” selling for a sum of £210, or more than $22,000 in todays currency.
The instrument then transferred between multiple owners over the following decades before reaching musical philanthropist Gertrude Clarke Whittall, who donated the “Castelbarco” cello in 1936 to the United States Library of Congress, where it sits today. Also donating the “Cassavetti” viola and the “Betts,” “Ward” and “Castelbarco” violins, Mrs. Whittall hoped for the magnificent instruments to “be played by many different musicians,” and established a Foundation intended to support their maintenance and use in concerts.
For several years thereafter, the “Whittall Strads” were played by a number of guest string quartets, but the musicians each only had the opportunity to play the instruments for one or two concerts and found it difficult to become familiar with their use. To resolve this problem, the Library decided to host resident ensembles to use the collection, although this in turn limited the opportunity to play such magnificent instruments to a select few musicians.
But that was in the 1930s. A lot more is possible today.
Fusing high-resolution 3D graphical imaging technology, precise multi-axis machining capabilities, and decades of experience mastering the luthier craftsmanship, we are now capable of turning Mrs. Whittall’s dreams into reality.
Hellweg & Cloutier was founded with the mission to expand the reach of history’s greatest stringed instruments. We are humbled to present a replica of Stradivari’s “Castelbarco” cello that we believe faithfully captures the tonal brilliance of the original masterpiece. From the precise graduations mapped throughout the sound chamber, to the chisel marks made by Stradivari himself, to the balance of the violin as a whole, we believe that our instruments can match or exceed the sound quality, look, and feel of what could previously be afforded by only corporations or the aristocracy.