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Antonio De Torres Classical Guitar from the Estate of Rose Augustine (1866)
Antonio De Torres Classical Guitar (1866), made in Seville, natural varnish and French polish finish, black tolex hard shell case.
An outstanding sounding instrument by famed guitar maker Antonio de Torres Jurado (June 13, 1817 November 19, 1892) . Our guitar was acquired directly from the Rose Augustine Collection in 2006. Torres' contributions to the art of guitar making are considered to rival the importance of those Antonius Stradivari made to violin making. His work established the basic design and construction of the modern classical guitar. His instruments were so entirely superior to his contemporaries that his designs changed the way guitars were to be built forever, in Spain and throughout the world. Categorised by Romanillos, Torres guitars are divided into two epochs; the first epoch (FE) being the years he was active in Sevilla, from 1852-1870, and the second epoch (SE) being the years 1871-1893 he lived and worked in Almerķa.
Antonio de Torres started his career as a carpenter's apprentice during his 12th year in Vera, Spain where he lived with his family. After narrowly avoiding being drafted into the military to fight in the current dynastic war he quickly married and started a family, at least partially as a strategy for getting out of future military service. The next several years were difficult ones for Torres- he often found himself in debt and behind on his taxes. After the death of his young wife from tuberculosis, 24 year old Torres moved to Sevilla in 1845 to seek work and a fresh start. At the time Sevilla was a great cultural and artistic center with lots of opportunities for craftsmen and artisans.
While he made his first guitar before moving to Sevilla (there is some evidence that he briefly studied with renowned guitar maker Jose Pernas of Granada) he still worked mainly as a carpenter, producing the occasional guitar, for his first few years there. Only in the 1850's, on the advice of his colleague Julian Arcas, did he begin working in earnest as a professional guitar builder. The year 1852 began Torres' First Epoch. This period finds Torres investigating contemporary concepts of guitar construction. Torres realised that the soundboard was the element most important to the tonal quality of a guitar. To increase the volume of his guitars he made them not only larger, but fitted them with lighter and thinner soundboards that were arched in both directions and developed a system of fan-bracing to strengthen the top.
While living in Sevilla, Torres began a relationship with Josefa Martin Rosado. Perhaps less scandalously in cosmopolitan Sevilla than in a more conservative small town, the couple had three children and lived together before marrying in 1868. Torres continued building guitars there until 1870, by which time there was a major economic depression in Spain. After 25 years as a proffesional guitar builder in Sevilla, Torres moved back to Almeria. Here he attempted to retire from guitar making and enter the more secure business of running a china shop. He continued producing instruments part-time until the death of his wife in 1883, when he began to devote more of his time to making 12 guitars a year until his death in 1892.
Antonio de Torres was a highly precise, if eccentric, craftsman. To prove his point that it was the top, and not the back and sides of the guitar that gave an instrument its sound, in 1862 he built a guitar with back and sides of papier-māché (this peice resides in the Museu de la Musica in Barcelona). Another display of his craftsmanship- rumored to be what gained him clemency from the Queen of Spain herself when he was arrested for counterfeiting coins to pay off his ubiquitous debts- was a guitar built like a 3-D puzzle that could be assembled without glue; when disassembled, all 365 peices would apparently have fit inside a modern shoe box. Rumor also has it that the punch die he forged to make his counterfeit coins is still where he put it to cover his tracks- at the bottom of the well at the family farmhouse at El Tajar. We see that Torres remains a bit of a fantastical figure - for instance, while there is no hard evidence to say so, oral tradition still maintains that at some point he was an ordained priest.
Overall length is 38 11/16 in. (98.3 cm.), 13 3/4 in. (34.9 cm.) wide at lower bout, and 3 1/2 in. (8.9 cm.) in depth at side, taken at the end block. Scale length is 25 3/4 in. (654 mm.). Width of nut is 1 15/16 in. (49 mm.). Despite some heavy repair, it remains an outstanding sounding instrument and a fine extant example of Torres' early work. It is numbered FE 22 in Romanillos. From what we understand Albert Augustine and Frank Haselbacher both worked extensively on the guitar. At one point the back was removed (unfortunately cutting through the lining in the process). Some of the back bracing was altered and the back and sides were heavily over-finished. The headstock was re-fit with turn of the (20th) century tuners - very possibly by Enrique Garcia. Excellent Condition.
Item # 3000
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