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Lord John

peculiar f holes identified : A violin by Claude Aubert, Troyes

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Dear violin friends,

A few weeks ago, I posted a thread about an unknown violin bought at Amatis, with peculiar f holes. With not much success, I must admit...

Next step was to go to the luthier, in order to get the thing fixed. So I went to Roland Terrier, at Mirecourt. I was pleased to see he took much interest in the violin, wich he identified as a XIIIth century  instrument, most probably french. Roland said he would check his extensive photographic database in order to see if  identification could be pushed  further.

Two open cracks had at least to be repaired,  plus the usual fittings after a careful internal check.  

Some time later, I mailed to inquire about the violin.  Roland had removed the top plate and was happy to indicate he had identified the maker, in an absolute manner. This happens rarely in such cases, but a detail he had observed but on this specific (scarce) maker had given him the answer. Here I join Rolands pic, with his kind permission....

The way the linings are (deeply!!) mortised into the corner block is indeed surprising, and typical for Claude Aubert, a french luthier who lived in the East of France, at Troyes.

Once this had been cleared, the shield-formed wood replacement at the upper back plate, made sense. Aubert is known for branding his instruments between the interrupted purflings, on the back  He is of course not the only one to do so (see a very old thread on the pegbox ). A previous repair had tried to erase the marks of a "less valued"Amati3.thumb.jpg.4e1d9bf979b705d2e6b4c57c40e49351.jpg maker....

I encourage you, if not already done, to visit Rolands impressive site about the Mirecourt school  of violin making (and much more...)

https://www.luthiers-mirecourt.com/galerie_instruments.htm

The Aubert cello shows, in my eyes, some more similarities to this nice little violin.

I am deeply indebted to Roland for sharing his knowledge with me, and allow me to publish this...

Hope you had interest in reading that too.

 

Block.jpg

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16 hours ago, Lord John said:

The way the linings are (deeply!!) mortised into the corner block is indeed surprising, and typical for Claude Aubert, a french luthier who lived in the East of France, at Troyes.

 

 

Block.jpg

This feature (linings morticed deeply into assymetrical corner blocks with a "point") would be very common for Mittenwald, too. So it would be interesting to know where Aubert was trained, because this construction method seems to be very unusual for french makers of the 18th century.

Thanks for sharing!

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I have seen a few old French violins that really looked like they were made around an inside mold. It may not have been the most common technique, but the Diderot D'Alembert Encyclopedia from 1751 shows an inside mold among the outside molds and templates used for violin making, so the technique was known.

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13 hours ago, Michael Appleman said:

I have seen a few old French violins that really looked like they were made around an inside mold. It may not have been the most common technique, but the Diderot D'Alembert Encyclopedia from 1751 shows an inside mold among the outside molds and templates used for violin making, so the technique was known.

It would be interesting to know how many makers used this technique and if they where apprenticed in France or brought it as immigrants or journeymen from somewhere else  - maybe from Füssen or Mittenwald. Roland Terrier seems to think that the inside work, the use of an inside mould with linings inserted in this way is so idiosyncratic that it's pointing to one particular maker only. Do you know who else used this construction method in France in the 18th century?

BTW, here the OP showed the rest of the instrument:

 

 

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On 11/28/2018 at 2:37 PM, martin swan said:

And also instruments made on the back with a trench for the ribs.

The idea that French violins are made on an outside mold is only a valid generalisation "post-Vuillaume".

 

Just to be clear, the Diderot engravings also show outside molds, so that technique was known as well in France, well before Vuillaume's day. BTW, my understanding of the Diderot illustrations is that they were inspired by the Guersan workshop ca.1750.

BOB with a trench was prevalent among French makers since the early Paris makers at the beginning of the 1700's, and tended to be the method of choice until Pique/Lupot et al started doing more "faithful" Strad copies starting ca.1790. Mirecourt and other "provincial" makers continued BOB often with a trench, well into the 1800's, when the big Parisian shops seem to have mostly switched to outside molds.

As far as foreign trained workers, it's well documented that there were makers such as Fendt working in Paris by the 1770's, so a Fussen influence shouldn't be discounted, but the Italian contingent was led by Castagneri and Gaffino, Piedmontese makers who themselves worked off the back often with a trench like Sorsano, Celoniato (early Cappa) et al. I think we should be cautious about drawing too hard conclusions from building techniques, even though the discussion here on MN seems on the face of it to have given us at least one "100% reliable" identifying tool.

As Jacob Saunders has suggested, a maker who was taught in one way and is successfully selling his production to satisfied customers, wholesale or retail, has no real incentive to retool and change his method for something less familiar. A big shop that has lots of traffic in foreign violins, tons of apprentices coming through, sends out its journeymen to shops in foreign cities, might have an idea of the different methods used elsewhere, and might dabble with a few experiments.

I like the way John Dilworth described the inner construction of Lupot in a Strad article. He really couldn't be sure if Lupot used an inside mold, an outside mold or no mold, but what was evident to him was that Lupot had carefully studied what the inside of a Strad looked like and strove to recreate that. 

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