A Desirable French Violin By Francois Caussin, About 1850.
Francois Caussin (1794-1866), the patriarch of the Caussin family renowned for crafting highly regarded copies of the Italian masters, was born in Rouvres-la-Chétive. He learned his trade under the direction of Louis Gaillard in Mirecourt before joining the ranks of Didier Nicolas D’Aine’s workshop in Paris and establishing himself independently around 1825 in the Northern French town of Neufchateau. His work is most commonly executed after Amati and Stradivari models but also follows Grancino and Seraphin, exhibiting a wide range of experimentation and influence by closer contemporaries such as J.B. Vuillaume, most notably in his thin, highly shaded and antiqued varnish that remains highly distinctive but many find not entirely dissimilar. Though his pupils are numerous, Francois’ most successful protege and eventual successor was also his younger son, Francois Hippolyte Caussin (1830-1898), who also studied with Gaillard before joining the family workshop; not to slight the older Nicolas Caussin (1818-1889), who learned from his father and worked independently in Paris until rejoining the family and collaborating closely with his younger brother in 1857. Nicolas’ nephew, Louis Collenot (1863-1933) would join the workshop in 1882, less than a decade before his older uncle’s death.
The distinctive Caussin aesthetic would spread across the globe through instruments made after their style produced both by and for JTL and in Saxon workshops for mass export, evidenced from perhaps just before Nicolas’ passing. These are often referred to as “School of Caussin,” as opposed to “Caussin Family” or “Caussin Workshop” instruments. Indeed, the family workshop produced numerous grades of instruments, ranging from simply constructed instruments with scribed purfling to copies of famed Italian and even English instruments, sought after for their aesthetic and characteristic timbre, with the personal family works and Francois’ production of more significant importance and value.