It is thought that the violin, viola, and cello were first made in the early 16th century, in Italy, however bowed stringed instruments were invented long before this date. For this reason, it can be helpful to think of the violin as an instrument that has evolved over time, rather than as a perfected product that was instantaneously invented.  The earliest evidence for violins as we know them today in existence is in Italian paintings by Gaudenzio Ferrari from the 1530s.

As the popularity of the violin grew, more violins were produced, and the violin was adopted into many different styles of music. Violin players developed new playing techniques to complement new genres, and the violin was sometimes modified slightly to fit the needs of the new genre. The violin became a key instrument used to play traditional songs in Celtic, Irish, gypsy, and Hungarian music, and was later used to play country/western, bluegrass, blues and jazz as these genres emerged over time.  Violin bows typically contain 150 to 200 hairs. They can be made up of a variety of materials including nylon and horse hair.

Older violins tend to be sought after over mass-produced factory instruments by more advanced players because of their superior craftsmanship, resonance, and because the tone and timbre of the violin is thought to mature over the lifetime of the instrument. The most famous violin maker is the ‘Golden Age’ luthier Antonio Stradivari, whose violins now sell for millions of dollars.

A selection of Violins sold at Anthemion Auctions: