1920 Mirecourt French Violin – Lion’s Head – French GEM! – SOLD DECEMBER 6, 2023 –
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3 rue Demours Ternes (JBV insignia)
1867 (J B Vuillaume signature on the bottom of label)
Are you looking for an instrument with character and, of course, sound? This early 20th century French violin could be just your fit. The violin was made in a Mirecourt workshop with the J. B. Vuillaume a Paris label. Mirecourt was the famous hub of violin making in the mountains of France starting as far back as the early 1700’s. If you desired to be a violin or bow maker you would have traveled to this area hoping and praying to find a job as a journeymen apprentice, devoting 3-7 years perfecting your craft. Many contracts for apprentices stated your work hours from sunup to sundown. These were the same hours a farmer had – no difference. The very best apprentices and journeymen working in Mirecourt, after much hard work and time, were able to apply their valuable skills in Paris, New York City, and London; many simply chose to stay right where they were, starting their own shops. At the town’s peak of making instruments in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s there were more than 2000 luthiers building instruments in and around the town working for various firms.
Our violin is from this famous time period and the craftsmanship many stages higher than just an apprentice. The violin has the longer body and the incandescent orange/brown varnish with a touch of red which is typical of the French style. The playing wear and patina in the varnish is all natural. The instrument has a highly flamed two-piece maple back, gorgeous maple neck, and lion head for the scroll. It is a very cool hand carved lion head with etched carving in the cheeks and back of the peg box. The entire violin is at another level, and the fittings are rosewood which help tie the entire look together. The arching in the plates is not overly done and I believe greatly adds to the power and overall sound of the instrument. There are no issues with the violin. It is a WOW! in my book.
Corpus 361.0 mm., Major Width 206.0 mm., Minor Width 167.5 mm., Rib Height 29.0 mm.
Stop Length is right on – 130.0 mm.
String Length is very comfortable at 325.0 mm.
The sound is big and leans slightly to the darker side. Yes, it has power and yet it is still smooth and mellow under the ear. The violin has a wide dynamic range and a large range of color in its overtones. It has a quick response and great sustain. The G & D strings will grab you and the treble side will have you hooked by how sweet the tone rings. If you are looking for a very focused, penetrating sound that will totally stand out in a large orchestra setting then this is not your violin. This instrument has a powerful sound that is mature and a tone quality that will blend into any group, large or small. I can feel this instrument pumping, vibrating, when I play on it and give the bow just a little more playing weight. It has excellent sustain and healthy response. At over 100 years old it is a tremendous violin full of character and nuance. It could be a fine fiddler’s dream violin or will make the first violin section of your orchestra sound even better. It is the real thing, vintage gorgeousness, classic French design and varnish, age, and impeccable condition, along with a unique well-balanced sound.