Jean Baptiste Vuillaume Violoncello


This violoncello was made by Jean Baptiste Vuillaume in Paris, France, in 1862. It is cello, Vuillaume #2425, with a one-piece table of spruce with medium grain, one-piece back of half slab cut maple with irregular grain and irregular flame descending from treble to bass, ribs are of similar wood, and the head is of maple with regular grain, and golden brown varnish over a golden ground. There is an original label inside the instrument:

Jean Baptiste Vuillaume a Paris 3, rue Demours-Ternes

The French violin maker and dealer Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume (1798-1875) dominated the violin trade in the middle of the 19th century. Born in Mirecourt, a small town in the Vosges famous for its production of lace and violins, he established his workshops in Paris where his marketing genius flourished. In the traditions of the Amatis, Vuillaume was an innovator, making major contributions in bowmaking, mass-marketing, and dealing in old instruments. In addition to his Octobasse, a giant double bass, he created a specially shaped contralto viola, an automatic violin mute, and machines and clever gadgets to apply to his work. He gained great skills in imitating fine old Italian violins, and as he engaged a large number of assistants, his new instruments could be offered through volume sales. As the Vuillaume imitations became more accurate and impressive, he became the leading shop in Paris, and the first violin shop in Europe to be conducting business in every country.

His instruments are true copies rather than fakes, and all bear Vuillaume's own label. This is remarkable in that there were over 2000 of the best quality instruments, all supervised and varnished by Jean-Baptiste himself.

Vuillaume's influence on violin and bow makers was felt all across France. His astute business sense in appealing to a new democratic marketplace of both exclusive buyers and mass consumers is felt in the violin trade today. J.B. Vuillaume's mastery of the Cremonese traditions, combined with sustaining the mystique of the violin, guaranteed the production of immensely successful instruments and his legendary reputation as a dealer in fine old instruments.

Date Made: 1862

Maker: Vuillaume, Jean Baptiste

Location: Currently not on view

Place Made: France: Île-de-France, Paris

See more items in: Culture and the Arts: Musical Instruments, Music & Musical Instruments, Cellos


Exhibition Location:

Credit Line: Gift of Evelyn and Herbert R. Axelrod

Data Source: National Museum of American History

Id Number: 2002.0074.04Accession Number: 2002.0074Catalog Number: 2002.0074.04

Object Name: cello

Physical Description: spruce (overall material)maple (overall material)Measurements: overall: 755 mm x 435 mm; 29 3/4 in x 17 1/8 inoverall: 48 5/8 in x 17 3/8 in x 9 1/2 in; 123.5075 cm x 44.1325 cm x 24.13 cm


Record Id: nmah_1000985

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