An Exceedingly Fine French Violin By Francois Breton, 1811

An Exceedingly Fine French Violin By Francois Breton, 1811

Joseph-Francois Breton (fl. 1778 - d. 1837) was a masterful and prolific craftsman who bridged the gap between the preceding styles of the Second Vieux-Paris School and the broader Stradivarius inspired patterns which flourished prevalently through the traditions of 19th century French violin making. After training and working in Paris, he established an independent workshop in Mirecourt in 1803 and achieved such success that by 1830 his name became virtually synonymous with the growth of Mirecourt into a major European center for the instrument trade. So much so that various shops in France and Germany began utilizing his name to brand trade instruments immediately after his death in 1837, including Laberte and JTL to name a few. The sheer number of these trade instruments and their sometimes piddling quality had for a number of years suppressed the value of instruments authentic to Breton’s highly successful workshop as well as the finer examples carefully crafted by his own hand. 

Francois Breton’s personal work was so coveted in his own time that he was appointed as official violin maker to Marie-Therese, the Duchesse d’Angouleme and eldest child of King Louis XVI and Mary Antoinette. Notably, the Duchesse would briefly reign as the Queen of France in 1830. As was customary in his time, Breton used both paper labels and a variety of stamps which included “Breton,” “F. Breton Brevete,” and the popular triangular firebrand to the inside of the belly reading, “Breton a Paris.”

Authentic and more refined examples of Breton’s work are increasingly in demand and most are over 200 years old, gaining attention for their place in history and exceptional quality. In April of 2024, A violin by Breton dating to about 1830 was featured on the famed Antiques Roadshow and given an insurance value of $25,000-$30,000 by Lawrence Cavalieri. 

We are absolutely delighted to offer this incomparable example of Francois Breton’s personal work dated 1811, an instrument which purveys the greatest care in making, meticulous detail work, archings to swoon over, and presents in mint, museum quality condition. The f-holes, perfectly executed and symmetrical, with a gradual fluting that expertly balances both the curve of the channel into the edge work and the trough of the corners; attractive maple of matching selections featuring somewhat tight, irregular ascending flame, exquisite spruce for the top, and a richly textured but still highly translucent golden-orange varnish hearkening to Vieux-Paris school which readily displays both grain lines and medullary rays throughout and without exception. The scroll too, a graceful and distinctly clear homage to the era of Parisian greats which inspired him; concentric, elegant, an altogether beautiful example of Breton’s characterful style and skill in execution down to the smallest detail. 

An instrument recommended to professionals and collectors alike, and perhaps, fit enough for a Queen of France.


Only left in stock