Ettore Soffritti

(Ferrara 3/6/1877 - Ferrara 3/1/1928)
Ettore Soffritti, 1919
Ettore Soffritti, 1919


BIOGRAPHY

Ettore Soffritti was born on June 3rd, 1877 to Margherita Roversi and Luigi Soffritti, a carpenter and a violin maker. Having lost his mother at the age of 3, he often spent his days in his father's workshop, where he showed a natural aptitude for hand labour. At the age of 6, he was enrolled in the violin class of the Conservatory. He built his first ½ violin when he was just 8, probably because it suited his age. At 12 he switched between learning to play the violin and working in the shop, where he built and restored stringed instruments until he reached 15 in 1892 and started to work on his own as a violin maker and carpenter (at that time one earned more as a carpenter than as a violin maker). In a short time, he became well-known and highly esteemed by musicians of the time. At 20, in 1897, he married Gulia Siglieri (Ferrara 20/12 /1877 - 16/6/1929); his son Silvio was born after a year. When his father died in 1903, he was the only maker in Ferrara, who works for musicians, Conservatory students, collectors and amateurs. Most of them supported the young maker with their orders. Precisely at that time, he engaged to focus on the esthetic aspect of his work, analysing thoroughly and studying lovingly the instruments of the great makers from Cremona, (Amati, Stradivari, Guarneri) that he was given to restore. He won prizes in 1910 (Ferrara) and 1911 (Torino): they were all gold medals. Besides, he received praise from Italian and foreign press.

MEDALS

Ettore Soffritti - Medal
Ettore Soffritti - Medal
Ettore Soffritti - Medal
Ettore Soffritti - Medal

World-renowned performers, when passing by Ferrara, seized the opportunity to be introduced to him, place an order, or leave letters expressing gratitude (pictures below).

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

Ettore Soffritti - Aknowledgements
Ettore Soffritti - Aknowledgements
Ettore Soffritti - Aknowledgements
Ettore Soffritti - Aknowledgements
Ettore Soffritti - Aknowledgements
Ettore Soffritti - Aknowledgements
Ettore Soffritti - Aknowledgements

He made 12 violins and a quartet dedicated to professor Giuseppe Pareschi, collector and amateur, who commissioned them. These instruments had been exposed in several exhibitions.
Comm. Emilio Arlotti, thoughtful friend and selfless customer, entrusted Ettore with the maintenance of his eminent collection of bow instruments and placed an order for a quartet marked by an inlaid ivory coat of arms. By royal decree, he was conferred the Gran Croce for his merits on June 21st 1913 (pictures below).

Ettore Soffritti - Gran Libro D'Oro
Ettore Soffritti - Gran Libro D'Oro

In the early twenties, he has made his most exquisite works inspired by the Stradivarian model. His varnish, which goes from warm yellow to brownish red, is substantial and pasty; the scrolls are soft with the inner spiral that grows gracefully.
After the sad period of World War II, during which we find very few of his instruments, Soffritti resumed his work with the help of his pupil Enrico Orselli (see picture left below), gaining acclamations that peaked in Rome with a gold medal at the National makers' contest: he was appointed with the first prize and his winning cello was bought in that occasion.

Ettore Soffritti with Enrico Orselli
Ettore Soffritti with Anselmo Gotti

From that moment orders exceeded his capability notwithstanding the help of his pupil Anselmo Gotti (see picture right above) and of his son Silvio (see picture below), whom he would have liked to have as a maker partner. His son built just one violin and, on that occasion, he got his labels printed (picture below).

Silvio Soffritti - Label

Nevertheless, having brilliantly graduated in cello, Silvio preferred to be a musician (in the picture right below he is on a ship commuting to America).

Silvio Soffritti
Silvio Soffritti with his band

In the years between 1923 and 1927 production increased by quantity (about 70 instruments) made after his almost unmistakable personal model. Just a few of these are still covered and protected by their beautiful old varnish based on essential oils and rare raisins as it was too slow to dry (Ferrara is a very humid town.) Acoustic quality was lowered but Ettore, as a great master would do, succeded in gaining an even better aesthetic effect, knowing by instinct what preparation should be given to the word before applying the new varnish and always choosing beautiful materials of the best quality.
During 35 years of equal and passionate work, Ettore made a little more than two hundred instruments: 20 years after Gotti maintained that, on the market, there were at least twice as many (who knows today?). Ettore frequently interrupted his building activity to restore instruments coming from every part of Italy: they sometimes were returned with much delay due to the great amount of work. His instruments bear his signature, in pen (picture left below) or pencil (picture center below) and, inside the soundboard, the inscription of the year and, rarely, the firebrand (picture right below).


Ettore Soffritti - Signature
Ettore Soffritti - Signature
Ettore Soffritti - Firebrand

He always put his signature inside the instruments he restored:

Signature inside a restored instrument

In 1927 he sold his violins for 5,000 liras (like Augusto Pollastri), very high price for the period.
He often issued the sales certificates on letterhead (pictures below).

Ettore Soffritti - Letterhead
Ettore Soffritti - Letterhead
Ettore Soffritti - Letterhead

He mainly used the following labels:

Ettore Soffritti Label
Ettore Soffritti Label
Ettore Soffritti Label
Ettore Soffritti Label

On 2 January 1928 Ettore died of a heart attack in Mantua train station, where he went to catch the train to return to Ferrara with his son Silvio. He had visited his colleague Gaetano Gadda to purchase two violins, a Scarampella and a Rocca: in the last period, he also devoted himself to the commerce of fine instruments. A few days earlier, dining with his friend Giovanni Bartolucci, violin player and owner of a musical instrument shop near Teatro Comunale, Ettore stated that he would not live more than a month.
His grave (SEE PICTURE) is in Certosa di Ferrara and it has an inscription by his friend and violinist Prof. Tullio Finotti, his first violin teacher, who provided for his funeral. His unfinished instruments had been given to complete to his pupil Anselmo Gotti. They bear the label dated 1927 and, inside, on the bottom plinth, they bear the inscription in pencil “Anselmo Gotti 1928”.
His workshop was in via del Turco 3: he lived on the first floor and the shop was on the ground floor. He also worked in via Frescobaldi 17 (see pictures below). The house was destroyed in a World War II bombing raid.


Ettore Soffritti - Via Frescobaldi, 1910
Ettore Soffritti - Via del Turco
LITTLE MODELS WITH SIGNATURE AND VARNISH INGREDIENTS

Ettore Soffritti - Modellino con firma
Ettore Soffritti - Modellino con ricetta vernice


F-HOLES MODELS FROM ETTORE SOFFRITTI'S WORKSHOP


Viola Ettore Soffritti
Viola Ettore Soffritti
Viola Ettore Soffritti
Viola Ettore Soffritti
Modello Stradivari
Modello Stradivari
Modello Stradivari
Modello Stradivari
Modello Stradivari
Modello Stradivari
Modello Stradivari
Modello Stradivari
Modello su frammento di cartolina
Modello su frammento di cartolina scritta da Orselli a Pesaro
Modello su frammento di cartolina
Modello su frammento di cartolina scritta da Orselli a Pesaro
Modello Luigi Marconcini
Luigi Marconcini Model
Modello Luigi Marconcini
Luigi Marconcini Model
Modello Luigi Marconcini
Luigi Marconcini Model
Modello Luigi Marconcini
Luigi Marconcini Model
Modello Luigi Marconcini
Luigi Marconcini Model
Modello Luigi Marconcini
Luigi Marconcini Model
Modello Montagnana
Montagnana Model
Modello Montagnana
Montagnana Model
Modello Fiorini
Fiorini Model
Modello Fiorini
Fiorini Model
Modello Gasparo da Salò
Gasparo da Salò Model
Modello Gasparo da Salò
Gasparo da Salò Model
Modello Maggini
Maggini Model
Modello Maggini
Maggini Model
Modello Maggini
Maggini Model
Modello Maggini
Maggini Model
Modello Guarneri
Guarneri Model, used several times by Soffritti
Modello Guarneri
Guarneri Model, used several times by Soffritti
Modello Guarneri
Guarneri Model
Modello Guarneri
Guarneri Model


MORE MODELS FROM ETTORE SOFFRITTI'S WORKSHOP


Modello Stradivari
Stradivari Model used by Ettore Soffritti
Modello Stradivari
Stradivari Model used by Ettore Soffritti
Modello Stradivari
Stradivari Model used by Ettore Soffritti
Modello Stradivari
Stradivari Model used by Ettore Soffritti
Altro Modello
Another Model used by Ettore Soffritti
Altro Modello
Another Model used by Ettore Soffritti
Mezzadri Model
Mezzadri Model
Mezzadri Model
Mezzadri Model
Modello Soffritti
Soffritti Model
Modello Soffritti
Soffritti Model
Guarneri Neck Model
Guarneri Neck Model

INSTRUMENTS

Ettore Soffritti Cello - Ferrara 1905
Ettore Soffritti Doublebass - Ferrara 1906
Ettore Soffritti Viola - Ferrara 1909
Ettore Soffritti Cello - Ferrara 1911
Ettore Soffritti Violin - Ferrara 1912
Ettore Soffritti Violin - Ferrara 1922
Ettore Soffritti Viola - Ferrara 1923
Ettore Soffritti Violin - Ferrara 1923
Ettore Soffritti Violin - Ferrara 1924
Ettore Soffritti Violin - Ferrara 1924
Ettore Soffritti Cello - Ferrara 1924
Ettore Soffritti Cello - Ferrara 1924
Ettore Soffritti Violin - Ferrara 1925
Ettore Soffritti Violin - Ferrara 1926
Ettore Soffritti Violin - Ferrara 1926