Ref :   0990

A superb French violin labelled and almost certainly by
Hippolyte Chrétien SILVESTRE neveu
(1845 - 1913)
Paris, 1896

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This violin was recently found on a farm in South Africa and is in near mint condition, with no repairs. It appears to have been unused for the past 25 years or so and should authenticity be established, it would be an exceptionally fine example of this maker's work towards the end of the 19th century.

This violin bears the maker's known printed label from that period which also contains a handwritten serial number. It is branded in the back and in the top (see photo) and also on the edge of the top end of the bass bar. It can be stated with confidence that this violin very propbably is Silvestre's personal work and not the consequence of any collaboration.

Hippolyte Chrétien Silvestre (1845-1913) was nephew of the important French luthier, Pierre Silvestre, to whom he was apprenticed in Lyon, France, and whom he succeeded in 1865, when barely 20 years old. Silvestre moved to Paris in 1884 where he sealed his reputation as one of the foremost French makers of his time.

H. C. Silvestre received exhibition medals in Vienna and Paris. William Henley says of him: 'Master craftsman in his modelling of the Stradivarius and Guarnerius. Reddish brown varnish of Italian suppleness, plentifully applied and very transparent. Every detail splendidly wrought. Nearly always wide grain belly wood. Tonal quality of fine and responsive brilliancy.'

René Vannes adds this (from French): 'He is considered as one of the foremost representatives of contemporary Lorraine lutherie; he has obtained the highest national and international awards at various exhibitions. The workmanship in his instruments is of great tidiness and his varnish of great suppleness.'

In this violin the top is of fine narrow to medium grained spruce; the two-piece back is of beautifully flamed maple with an even straight horizontal curl, repeated in the ribs, neck and scroll. The varnish is reddish brown, very transparent and pliable, slightly worn at the usual places. The workmanship in this instrument is superb throughout, notably in the cornerwork's superb mitres and in the crisp near-perfect Fs. The scroll is elegant and balanced.

This violin is exceptionally well-toned with a rich and full g-string and a clear powerful e-string, well-balanced over the full register and clean and responsive in high positions, suitable for solo concert performance and recitals.


Dimensions :
  Length of back: 35.7 cm

Condition :
  This violin is in impeccable condition, free from repairs or cracks. Other than a fresh setup, the fingerboard was recently reprofiled to eliminate considerably deep pitting, and the nut (top saddle) was replaced. As for the rest, this violin is as when made, to the extent that it still has the original pegs, known to be the type used by this maker at that time.

Provenance :

Price : On request


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