Ref :   0601

A good French viola, unlabelled, probably by
Laberte-Humbert Frères
Mirecourt, France. C. 1890

In the world of trade instruments (as opposed to fine instruments) the French output has always been regarded with respect and appreciation. The same cannot be said of the productions of many German or East-European studios. This is because the French lutherie has almost always upheld very high standards and has rightfully been the cause of much nationalistic pride on the part of the French makers. French lutherie is a highly protected industry - to this day you cannot enter a French violinmaker school if you are not a French citizen.

In this landscape it is particularly the firm of Jérôme Thibouville-Lamy (commonly referred to as 'JTL') and its great rival, the firm of Marc Laberte (founded already in 1780) that dominate the scene during the late-19th and early 20th centuries. Their output was prolific, but almost always very good, conforming to and maintaining high standards in materials, workmanship and tonal property. To this day those instruments are respected and much appreciated.

This unlabelled viola is without any doubt French and dates from about 1890. At first I believed this to be a 'JTL' instrument, but I have seen many JTLs and the workmanship, materials and varnish is not consistent with JTL output. However, it conforms much more to the standards of Marc Laberte's firm, known as Laberte-Humbert Frères and I would say with some certainty that this viola is a Laberte production from about 1890.

This viola has excellent tonal response.

The photos below were taken before the setup was improved. The last photo below shows the new setup - as the instrument looks today - with a new rosewood tailpiece and matching chinrest, new bridge and new Tomastik Dominant strings - a great improvement.


Dimensions :
  Back length: 39.5 cm

Condition Report :
  This instrument is in very good condition without any cracks or evident repairs. The character and age marks are purely superficial and have no structural significance. Rosewood tailpiece, matching chinrest, bridge and strings are all new - see last photo below.

Provenance :

Price : Withheld


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