Our glyptotheque

Bild © R. Mortel,

Photo credits see below


Down through the centuries, European nobles assembled collections of ancient sculptures, which they called “glyptotheques”. The practice of making plaster casts of sculptures from antiquity began in the 1700s, since the demand for such sculptures far exceeded the number of those which had survived.

Thirty years ago we started collecting plaster casts of classical violin, viola, and cello archings. Our collection currently contains over 100 plaster casts of archings, details, and scrolls.

Such plaster casts usually emerge as a by-product during restoration. When we are working on patches or carrying out major corrections on the arching of an instrument, we need to have counter-forms in order to subsequently support the form of the original. Once the restoration is finished, the plaster cast remains, and it can serve as a basis to cast a new, positive form.

Our glyptotheque

In the meantime, a whole new area of research and data collection has opened up: thanks to CT scans of classical master violins. In the 1990s, radiologist Steven A. Sirr, M.D. started to scan violins with medical CT scanners. Nowadays the medical viewing software has become available for anyone with a normal Apple Macintosh computer, so with the help of this software we can look inside the instruments, and contemplate and compare the inner archings and thicknesses at any spot of the scanned instrument.

By now we have collected over 120 complete scanned datasets of old master instruments in our archives.

Thanks a million to Steve Sirr, who provided us Oberliners with all these scans!

Photo credits:

upper picture / glyptotheque:

   Photo:    Richard Mortel

   Licence: [Creative Commons BY 2.0  


via Wikimedia Commons

middle picture / violin in CT-Scanner:

    © Steve Sirr, Minneapolis

lower picture / Stradivari - violin "Betts", virtual slice at soundpost

    CT Scanning and processing by Steve Sirr.

making CT-scans
analysing ct-scans