A French Viola By Jules Gaillard, C. 1860. 15 3/8”
The Gaillard family represents both generations of French luthiers and blossoming artisanal craftsmanship in the French violin making Mecca of Mirecourt in the 19th century. Jules Gaillard proliferated from 1840-1870, apprenticed with his father, Louis Gaillard, was a known collaborator of Paul Bailly, and later mentored Paul Serdet. His brother Charles Gaillard work with Charles Adolph Gand. Like many other establishments of the era, Jules Gaillard’s workshop produced instruments of varying grades, with the highest quality boasting both admirable precision in workmanship and a distinct character.
This petite viola with a back length of 390mm or 15 3/8” exemplifies all the hallmarks for which Gaillard’s instruments have become so sought after; a graceful outline with concentric volutes and ebonized chamfering, with well defined eyes, characterful and clean channeling and edgework, with fluting to the wings of the f holes, and a beautifully shaded and textured varnish with a mustache across the table. The tonewoods too are well chosen, with tight even grained spruce for the top and a two piece back of tight even flamed maple with matching ribs and headstock. Altogether, a triumph of 19th century Mirecourt lutherie.