Daniel P.N

A Look at Parisian Violin Makers’ Approach to Varnish

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Good article. Thank you, Andrew Dipper for a concise account with some interesting information about imported varnish, and thanks Daniel for sharing this.


I thought I'd mention a conversation I had with the late J.F.Schmitt about old Paris varnishes. You can find some early 18thc. Pierrays and Bocquays that have very attractive thick, soft, and almost "Venetian" looking varnishes. There's a Pierray cello  at the Musée de la Musique that for years was displayed alongside a Goffriller, and the colour coats of the varnishes looked surprisingly familiar. At one point years ago, I was admiring a particularly beautiful Pierray at Schmitt's in Lyon, and he mentioned that around 1720, the royal ensembles stopped buying instruments for their musicians, and made the players start paying for their own fiddles. This led the makers to start looking for ways to cut prices, and to start adopting cheaper and faster drying varnishes, eventually leading to the thin, hard, yellow varnishes that one generally associates with "Vieux Paris" school fiddles.

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