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Violin thumbnail 2
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Not currently on display at the V&A

Violin

about 1840 (Made)
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

The rectangular shape of this violin is unorthodox, and it has no date or label inside. It could have been made between about 1835 and 1850 when instrument makers were experimenting with new forms. The fact that the overwhelming majority of violins produced subsequently have retained their traditional form indicates that such experiments ended in failure.

Object details

Category
Object type
Parts
This object consists of 2 parts.

  • Violin
  • Bridge
Materials and techniques
Planed and carved sycamore neck, sides and back; planed pine belly; planed ebony fingerboard.
Brief description
Violin with rectangular body, sycamore body and neck English or French, about 1840.
Physical description
"Oblong shape, with arched belly and back, and sides of constant depth throughout. The soundholes are of a simplified f-shape. The bridge is stamped Aubert/ à Mirecourt/ France.' Anthony Baines,Catalogue of Musical Instruments in the Victoria and Albert Museum - Part II: Non-keyboard instruments (London, 1998), p. 17.
Dimensions
  • Length: 60.5cm
  • Cm depth: 4cm
  • Width: 11.5cm
The dimensions are taken from Anthony Baines:Catalogue of Musical Instruments in the Victoria and Albert Museum - Part II: Non-keyboard instruments. (London, 1998), p. 17.
Marks and inscriptions
Aubert/ à Mirecourt/ France (Stamped on the bridge of this violin. Bridges are often later replacements. Aubert of Mirecourt is otherwise unknown either as a luthier or as a maker of violin bridges.)
Translation
Aubert at Mirecourt, France
Object history
This instrument was originally part of the collections of Carl Engel, who described it as 'A curiosity in its way, and worthy of examination, if only as an evidence that the usual form of the violin is the best hitherto discovered for the acoustic perfection of the instrument'. (cf. Anthony Baines:Catalogue of Musical Instruments in the Victoria and Albert Museum - Part II: Non-keyboard instruments. (London, 1998), p. 17.) It was sold to the Museum in 1882 for £2.
Production
This instrument was described in the old museum register as 'English', presumbaly because Carl Engel, the owner, described it as such. The bridge is stamped Aubert/ à Mirecourt/ France but may not necessarily have been original to this instrument. The date 1840 is suggested, because experimental violins with new shapes, like those of Thomas Howell, were being made at about this time.
Summary
The rectangular shape of this violin is unorthodox, and it has no date or label inside. It could have been made between about 1835 and 1850 when instrument makers were experimenting with new forms. The fact that the overwhelming majority of violins produced subsequently have retained their traditional form indicates that such experiments ended in failure.
Bibliographic reference
Anthony Baines:Catalogue of Musical Instruments in the Victoria and Albert Museum - Part II: Non-keyboard instruments. (London, 1998), p. 17.
Collection
Accession number
176-1882

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Record createdMay 8, 2008
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