sep 15

Albert C. Barnes’ violins

This post originally appeared on the ‘’ blog. It’s here for archival purposes only.

Albert C. Barnes has been making posthumous waves for decades over the legalities of his enormous post-impressionistic art collection. For those who don’t know, Barnes managed to snatch up the world’s largest collection with the fortune he made with his medical inventions. A smart investor with a great eye and appreciation for the post-impressionism painters such as Matisse and Picasso, he made sweeping tours through Europe returning home with countless masterpieces to fill the coffers of his Merion Pennsylvania home. He shopped, of course, before any of the world museums did and perhaps that what his greatest winning maneuver.

It seemed strange to me that he didn’t favor fiddles. Plowing through France and Italy, one would think that a Strad would have made it back to America. After-all, fine violins do tend to compliment a millionaire’s portfolio — Henry Ford being the most obvious example. After a bit of digging, there was mention that he did in fact own a Francesco Ruggieri fiddle which was later donated to the local symphony house; the Philadelphia Orchestra.

I am not convinced that this was the only violin he owned. But it hardly matters. The reason I was so caught up in this man’s story is that, well, what if he did own a lot of violins, and what would he have done with them after he passed away. I applaud him for trying to preserve his estate intact, and share with the public all the masterpieces that hang on the walls. The famous violin hunter, Luigi Tarisio, upon his, death, was buried with two of his most cherished Strad violins; laying them across his chest. Not even death can separate some from their true loves.