AMIS 2022: The Serafin Violinmaker Family—Macro to Micro Level Approach for the Study of Two Violins Held in the Correr Museum in Venice

The American Musical Instrument Society (AMIS) promotes better understanding of all aspects of the history, design, construction, restoration, and usage of musical instruments in all cultures and from all periods. In June 2022, their annual meeting was held at Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre.

The Serafin Violinmaker Family: Macro to Micro Level Approach for the Study of Two Violins Held in the Correr Museum in Venice (Remote Presentation)
Chaehoon Lee

Chaehoon Lee is a doctoral candidate in the chemistry department at the University of Pavia. She does musical instrument preservation at Arvedi Laboratory of Non-invasive Diagnostics in Cremona. There she is trying to create a new gel cleaning material used for Asian and Western musical instruments’ surfaces. Her previous research was done at the Metropolitan Museum of Art New York as an Andrew W. Mellon conservation fellow, and at Gugak Center, Seoul.

This investigation of the Serafin family collection in the Correr Museum was initiated when the chance arose of non-invasive scientific analysis (photographic documentation, stereo microscope analysis, X-ray radiography, X-ray fluorescence, and Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy) on the instruments. Our attention was primarily focused on two violins made by Santo Serafin (1699–after 1758) and his nephew Giorgio Serafin (1726–1775), which displayed, at first glance, signs of intense use: worn-out areas, scratches, varnish cracks and detachments, and dust accumulation. Santo Serafin was one of the most representative of the Venetian luthiers. The instrument by the elder Serafin was possibly influenced by the style of Nicola Amati because there is an inscription “Imitazione Stainer, 1730” inside, which represents Jacobus Stainer, one of Amati’s scholars (S. Pio, Violin and Lute Makers of Venice, Liuteria Veneziana, Venezia 1640–1760, Venezia, Venice Research, 2004, p. 345). Giorgio Serafin studied with the great Venetian violin makers of his time, Santo Serafin and Domenico Montagnana. But he is also known to have worked independently with his own style. This presentation introduces the history and manufacturing method of Santo Serafin and Giorgio Serafin and their violins. Following visual observation, the conservation and restoration state of each violin was examined. The X-ray fluorescence and Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy method supported recognizing these two representative makers’ material usage as distinguishing organic and inorganic components. This research addresses not only the scientific results of the analysis of the violins but also historical research on the Serafin family of violin makers, for the future preservation and further study of these musical instruments.

Watch more videos from the 2022 AMIS Conference here.