Ref :   0612

A French violin branded
and possibly by Joseph F. Breton (1740 - 1799)
Circa 1790

This violin is indisputably French, as has been confirmed by a leading French authority based in Paris. It is branded (somewhat crudely) in the inside centre of the back - Breton L'Luthier Paris, which in fact is the only tenuous link to the maker Joseph Francois Breton (1740 - 1799) who worked in Mirecourt, but who labelled his instruments as if from Paris. At any rate, this is a fine violin and not a trade instrument.

Whether or not this is Breton's work would be difficult to establish. One would have expected Breton at least to brand his instrument properly, and not in such a crude manner. However, William Henley refers to Breton in less than glowing terms for his lack in attention to detail. Much of what Henley says (and I will not elaborate on those details here) is reflected in this violin, such as a plain maple back and a 'stiffness' in the design of the scroll, and it therefore could well be an authentic J. F. Breton.

On closer examination of the neck itself, it seems that this violin has had two neck grafts in its existence. Furthermore, it has recently been fitted with a new set of rosewood tuning pegs and matching tailpiece and chinrest - which greatly add to the visual appeal of this instrument. This violin is well-toned, however, and has very much to recommend it to a good violinist. It has been in a family of excellent musicians and was the preferred instrument of an superb musician.

It has been subjected to repairs (I elaborate on them further down), all of them extremely well-done, and is structurally stable. If acquired, this instrument should serve a deserving violinist with many good and satisfying years. I like this violin a lot, and would like to see that we keep it in South Africa.


Dimensions :
  Back length: 35.8 cm

Condition :
  This violin has had several repairs to cracks in the top, notably a soundpost crack, a bassbar crack and to wingcracks. All these repairs have been extremely well-executed, complete with patches and cleats on the inside, following correct procedures - fine workmanship for a deserving old violin, which demonstrates a high assessment on the part of those who handled this instrument. It also has an insert under the fingerboard, the aim of which is to increase the angle without having had to remove and reset the neck. Other than the foregoing, it can be said with confidence that this violin is structurally very secure and should give another 200 years of excellent service.

Provenance :

Price : Withheld
Had this violin been free from repairs, it would have been worth about R90 000. The repairs have an accumulative depreciating effect on the value. I provide a scale on the 'Pricing Structure' page of this site on which the price-effect of repairs are based.

A value given to me from a European authority corresponds to the above price, which takes into account the extent of the restorations.



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