French Violin

French Violin

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Description (Brief)

This violin was made in Mirecourt, France around 1880 This commercial Mirecourt violin was inspired by J.B. Vuillaume of Paris, who began making ornamental violins with carved male heads after 1829 (see catalog #1992.0388.01). In this example, a plain commercial Mirecourt instrument with the addition of a carved male head is marketed by J. Howard Foote in New York City, where it appears in his 1882 catalog, “Nos. 5943 Copy of Gaspard Duiffo Pruggar, superior quality, carved head and corners, plain ebony trimmings... $15.00 each.”

Carved bearded male heads made in Paris and Mirecourt were taken from a famous 1565 engraving of Gaspar Tieffenbrucker, surrounded by a group of bowed and plucked instruments and his tools. He was born in Bavaria in 1514, was trained and Guild-certified as a lute and instrument maker in Füssen, and then immigrated to France, where he established workshops in Lyon in 1533 and became famous for his viols and other bowed and plucked instruments. He continued working in Lyon until his death in 1571, after which his son Gaspar Tieffenbrucker the younger moved to Paris and continued in his father's tradition as an instrument maker. This violin has a reproduction Gaspar da Salo label and is made of a two-piece table of spruce, two-piece back of maple with irregular, medium descending figure, ribs of similar maple, neck of mildly figured maple with pegbox and carved male head, and a yellow-orange varnish.

Currently not on view
Object Name
Date made
Place Made
France: Grand Est, Mirecourt
Physical Description
spruce (table material)
maple (back material)
overall: 36.3 cm x 20.8 cm; 14 5/16 in x 8 3/16 in
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
Credit Line
Gift of J. Howard Foote
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Musical Instruments
Music & Musical Instruments
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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