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Mid 19th Century French Violin

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Features

A masterful violin by any musical or aesthetic standard, exemplifying the bold confidence of a master’s hand. Perfect tonal balance, with fine projection and multiple layers of tonal colors, this is an artist’s violin, suitable for solo performances as well as in the chamber ensemble. The long pattern of the outline is deceptive; instead of making the instrument more difficult to play than its counterparts with shorter bodies, the larger top plate speaks more loudly and with less effort. The highly polished top layers of deep red varnish gradually relax to reveal a surprisingly brilliant golden ground coat where the instrument has been touched by players for over a century. Thin, delicate purfling encircles the edgework and decorates the organic, asymmetrical outline.

This violin is labeled: N. Lupot Luthier de la Musique du Roi, et de l"Ecole Royale de Musique Paris 1822. While it bears the label and name of Nicolas Lupot, the style and construction of the instrument attributes the violin much more to his pupil, Auguste Bernardel. Bernardel began studying under the tutelage of Lupot in the early 19th century and, after Lupot’s death in 1824, with Gand. A contemporary of Vuillaume, his instruments were highly regarded in his time. After his studies with Gand, he moved to rue Croix des Petits Champs, the same area as Vuillaume, and established his own shop with his sons known as Bernardel et Fils. While there has always been affection in the violin world toward the Italian master violins, many have stated that there are few of these instruments that have been able to achieve the same combination of value, appearance and tonal quality as Auguste Bernardel.

The provenance of this violin is not entirely established: While these are good estimations of the origins and maker of this instrument, we state with assurance that it is a French violin dating back to the mid-19th century, the undisputed Golden Age of French violinmaking.

Violin Lot# F1 S5128

Price: $50,000

Size: 4/4

Tonal Profile:

Country of Origin

French Violin Making

Mirecourt: The Center of Violin Making in France

Although the precise beginning of violin making in the northeastern French commune of Mirecourt has been lost to obscurity, there is no question that some of the greatest violin makers in history lived and worked in Mirecourt. In the 1600s, there were perhaps 50 luthiers, as the city was just beginning to forge its reputation. Precise recordkeeping was instituted during the 18th century, a necessity of the guild system that was helping transform Western Europe into an economic powerhouse.

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Jean Baptiste Vuillaume

Standing alongside Amati, Stradivari and Guarneri as one of history's greatest and most influential violinmakers, Jean Baptiste Vuillaume possessed an unusual array of qualities unique in the violinmaking world. Born in the famous French violinmaking center of Mirecourt in 1798, Jean Baptiste learned his craft well, first from his father, later from Fr. Chanot.

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Parisian Violin Making

The heart and soul of French violin making is actually Mirecourt, which is around 100 miles from Paris. It was the birthplace of most of the great violin makers of France. There, the famous European guild system firmly took hold, providing the training, support and resources necessary to develop skilled luthiers and fine quality instruments.

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Workshops

Explore the workshops of Jerome Thibouville-Lamy and Laberte Humbert Frères.

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