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An instrument of divine beauty, with a tone that is sweet yet powerful, and a deep timbre. How enchanting it is to play on.
David Oistrakh, Berlin 1972

Alexandre Berthier, Marshal of France and Prince of Neuchâtel, obtained this violin from Napoleon Bonaparte (probably as booty from the war in Spain).
Records of contemporary violin-makers suggest that the violin was later acquired by Vuillaume.
In 1895 it passed into the hands of a French, aristocratic family and then to the violin-maker Germain in Paris. The Stuttgart firm of Hamma & Co, became the next owners in 1909. Hardly was the 'Berthier' in their possession when Caressa, a Paris violin-maker, sent Hamma a telegram asking him to bring the instrument to Geneva immediately as there was a prospective buyer. But in fact it was the Vecsey family in Berlin who were interested in it. Baron Vecsey de Vecse acquired it for his sixteen-year-old son, who played it at all his concerts right up to his death in 1935.
As The Strad magazine reported, the 'Marechal Berthier' Stradivari was marvellously preserved (as it remains to this day). In the words of The Strad's description: 'The varnish with which, it is still plentifully covered is the master's favourite orange-red; the tone is large, sonorous, and eminently suited for the concert-hall. The form is that said to have been adopted by Stradivari in about 1708-09, the widths being full. The back is of the fine, broadly-marked maple seen in numbers of the maker's instruments of this, his best period. There appears to have been in one place a piece of faulty material, which Stradivari himself covered up with a small V-shaped veneer; but this is invisible, or nearly so in photograph".(The master apparently wished to make use of the acoustical properties of this little 'soundboard' at the back of the instrument.).
Today too this violin is accounted an instrument of extraordinary beauty and exceptional fullness of tone. Such violinists as Principe, David Oistrakh, Szeryng, Francescatti, Grumiaux, Kogan, Gulli, Brengola and many others have expressed admiration for it. It is one of the few violins of the great master that are still in an excellent state of preservation and possess the powerful and warm tone demanded by today's large orchestras and concert halls.
The instrument is described in many books, notably in Henley, Doring and Fritz Meyer. It is also illustrated in the Fridolin Hamma and Walter Hamma books, S. F. Sacconi, and H. K. Goodkind.