The Makers

Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume

1798 - 1875

We currently have in stock a Guarneri model J.B. Vuillaume dating from 1854, it has a Millant certificate and is a fine example with very pure varnish.

The word, ‘trade’, is often used pejoratively in the violin world to indicate items of low quality made on a large scale and sold through third parties. Given the scale of J.B. Vuillaume’s production – over 3000 instruments and many more bows – and the fact that large numbers were sold through agents, it seems appropriate to call him a trade maker, but his output, which was of the very highest quality, gives the lie to this use of the word. We should also bear in mind that one of the most productive violin workshops of the late 17th and early 18th century – over a thousand instruments produced – was that of a certain Antonio Stradivari.

Vuillaume employed many violin makers including;  Hippolyte Silvestre, Honoré Derazey, Charles Buthod, Charles Adolphe Maucotel, Télesphore Barbé, Paul Bailly, George Gemünder, Charles Simonin,  Nicholas Vuillaume, Sebastien Vuillaume, Maurice Mermillot, Ludwig Neuner, Alexandre Delanoy,  François Gerard “Gros Gérard“, Jean Augustin Darte, and Nicholas-Françoise Vuillaume.

At the age of sixty, Vuillaume made a change of direction: ‘I intend to leave my retail shop to occupy myself entirely with my manufactory at Ternes … I am leaving the retail trade and will only keep the artistic part of my business.’ (Letter from Vuillaume to his London agent, Robert Cocks, 28 July 1858.)

But a gradual depletion of the workshop occurred through the 1860s. Alexandre Delanoy worked there up to 1870 but by 1875 the only worker left was François Gérard whose precise function in the workshop seems to be unknown. Télesphore Barbé continued to supply Vuillaume with instruments until the end, but worked from home.