Ref :   1016

A very good French violin attributed to and probably by
François Caussin l'ainé
(1794 - 1866)
 
Rouvres-la-Chétive, circa 1830

 
 
 
 
 
 
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The first person to suggest that this violin is the work of François Caussin (l'ainé) was an important English authority who saw the violin in 2000. In more recent times the American violinist, Dmitry Pogorelov, confirmed that this violin closely resembled his own François Caussin he played on for years and was likely by the same maker.

Of François Caussin l'ainé the English authority William Henley writes that he systematically copied the work of old Cremonese masters to the extent of fitting fake labels and dates and also of antiquing his instruments to resemble instruments from the late-17th or early-18th centuries. He refers to Caussin's preference for "full arching" - which was not typical of French tastes and which could lead one to attribute German roots to some of his violins. A photographic comparison of this violin with other instruments by this maker shows distinct similarities in workmanship and modeling, notably in the high arching and very particularly in the manner in which the varnish was manipulated to look older than it is. In some examples this violin is virtually indistinguishable from other known Caussins as far as modeling, Fs and overall workmanship is concerned, leading one to conclude that this very likely is his work. Furthermore, comparing the handwriting in this violin's label with that in other known Caussins, show that it was very likely written by the same person.

François Caussin l'ainé, (1794-1866) studied in Mirecourt under Charles Gaillard and established his own workshop in Rouvres-la-Chétive in 1815, where he remained active until 1865. He was a skilled copyist and understood the commercial advantages to be gained from copying and faking the work of the old masters. In his copies he went to the extent of selecting typical wood used by those makers. In the case of this violin, which is labelled Francesco Ruggieri, 1671 he selected a top of very finely grained tone spruce. The back is in one piece. The arching is quite deep, the purfling superb and the scroll elegant. The golden-brown varnish was antiqued considerably, particularly in the back, using the identical techniques seen in Caussin's other instruments. (Note that the pegs have been replaced since the photos were taken - the original golden caps were retrieved and fitted back into the new pegs.)

This violin is very well-toned with clarity and focus throughout the register, speaking with easy response, making it a real pleasure to play on.

   
   
 

Dimensions :
  Length of back: 35.4 cm

Condition :
  This violin is in excellent condition and is virtually free from cracks anywhere. One minor crack in the top near the lower treble edge has been repaired and is stable. Furthermore a very thin wedge was fitted under the fingerboard to increase the elevation and clearance above the belly. It can be said with confidence that all this work was carried out by Amon Bilmark who was a student in Rome of Simone Sacconi. Other than that, this violin is structurally perfectly secure.

Provenance :
  The earliest known person to own this violin was an important teacher in the 1950s and 60s who was a close friend of the violin maker Amon Bilmark (1894-1961), who had a prominent dealership in Durban. It is believed that this violin was purchased directly Bilmark who also probably imported it and was responsible for its restoration. Further provenance is withheld. This violin now belongs to Johan Grobbelaar.

Price : On request
 

 
 
 
 

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