Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume Violin

Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume Violin

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Description (Brief)

This violin was made by Jean Baptiste Vuillaume in Paris, France, in 1860. It is violin, Vuillaume #2296, made of a two-piece table of spruce with medium grain, two-piece back of quarter cut maple with narrow irregular flame, ribs and head are of similar maple, and reddish-orange 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.

Currently not on view
Object Name
Date made
Vuillaume, Jean Baptiste
Place Made
France: Île-de-France, Paris
Physical Description
spruce (overall material)
maple (overall material)
overall: 23 1/2 in x 8 1/4 in x 3 7/8 in; 59.69 cm x 20.955 cm x 9.8425 cm
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Credit Line
Gift of Evelyn and Herbert R. Axelrod
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Musical Instruments
Music & Musical Instruments
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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