• Fine Musical Instruments auction at Christies

    Sale 2204

    Fine Musical Instruments

    13 October 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 151



    Price Realised  


    The body of birch with six pierced circular sound holes, the square pillar terminating in a carved head of a classical form with polychrome decoration, height 68½ in. (174 cm)

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    Erich Lachmann
    University of California, Los Angeles

    Pre-Lot Text

    Property from the Collection of the late Erich Lachmann

    Sold by Order of the Regents of the University of California

    Born in Berlin in 1886 Erich Lachmann began his music career as an eight year old violin student and at fourteen entered the Sternschen Konservatorium where Lachmann would continue his studies as a violinist. His passion for the violin took a different direction when in 1904 he began, what is believed to be, a 3 year apprenticeship as a violin maker with the Mittenwald trained Michael Strobl. Upon completion of his required studies in violin making he opened his own Berlin workshop in 1909.
    Lachmann would concentrate his efforts copying the works of the 17th and 18th century Italian masters. Often working from examples in his own collection he was also exposed to other great works owned by the virtuoso players of his day such as Hugo Heermann, Carl Flesch and Jacques Van Lier who where said to patronize his workshop. We might assume that Lachmann concentrated his efforts more as a dealer and a collector than violin maker because of the few examples of his work that survive today.

    In his profession as a dealer he certainly excelled, having brokered the sale of no less than fourteen works by Stradivari, including the 1704 Viotti and the 1715 Titian, and at least twenty-three works by G. B. Guadagnini, as well as countless other violins by Italian masters. Like his Berlin contemporary Emil Herrmann, his business increasingly involved American clients and by 1920 he would be traveling to the United States to market his collection.

    As a private collector he was equally successful in acquiring great works with a wide range of historical significance. The collection would grow to be encyclopedic with examples as diverse as early 18th century French viols to 19th century Neapolitan mandolins. His associations with private collectors such as Paul de Wit, and museums like Berlin's Staatliche Sammlung or Muse du Conservatoire in Brussels allowed him to source fresh property with rich provenance which has always been the most desirable property for any collector.

    By 1932 Lachmann had left his native Berlin and relocated to the United States. Settling in Los Angeles he would continue his highly successful business in the trade of fine Italian violins and become regarded as the most influential dealer on the West Coast prior to World War II. His private collection now known as Historical Stringed Musical Instruments was placed on exhibition at the University of Southern California's Hancock Foundation. The collection remained there on extended loan and in 1950 USC published a book illustrating the collection titled The Erich Lachmann Collection of Historical Stringed Musical Instruments.

    Shortly before his death in 1961 Erich Lachmann sold the bulk of the collection along with some additional instruments to the University of California Los Angeles. The instruments and bows have remained at UCLA for the last forty-eight years where they were used for both exhibit and by artists at the University for the performance of period music.


    E. Lachmann, Erich Lachmann Collection of Historical Stringed Musical Instruments, Los Angeles, 1950, pp. 2 and 3.