Victor François Fétique – French Bow Maker

Victor François Fétique (1872-1933) was a prominent French archetier or bowmaker. His career spanned several decades, and he worked for some of France’s most prestigious music houses.

Fétique’s bows were known for their firm, dense sound. In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at Fétique’s life, training, techniques, and impact on the world of bowmaking.

Fétique’s early life

Victor François Fétique was born in Mirecourt on 9th August to the violinmaker Charles Claude Fétique. A marginal note in the birth registration indicates his birth was legitimised in the eyes of the authorities shortly after. The luthier Claude Somny witnessed the birth registration.

Victor François Fétique, French Bow Maker

Fétique served his apprenticeship under Charles Claude Husson and continued training with Sigisbert Fournier Maline, Émile Miquel, and Charles Nicolas Bazin. The Mirecourt census, taken in the spring of 1901, shows him in his hometown living at 3 Avenue de l’École normale and employed by Bazin. Later in the same year, he went to work for Caressa & Français in Paris in 1901 and met Claude Thomassin.

In 1913, he established his own shop in Paris at 72 rue Myrha, and it was in the period 1915-33 that the bulk of his output was produced. He was helped at this time by Jules, his younger brother, and by out workers. From 1921-6, Fétique bought bows from Mirecourt makers, Albert Thomassin (brother of Claude), Auguste Toussaint, Camille Rémi, Louis Joseph Morizot and others, which he then finished/modified and branded with his own mark. He was also assisted by his son, Marcel Gaston, and from 1927 by his nephew, André Richaume.

Fétique’s style and work

Like many of his peers, he often made bows with nickel-silver mounts in these early days of independence. However, as he became more established, he consolidated his style: the heads were small but regular, the frogs with narrow throats, and frequently he used one-piece buttons with two pins. Some experts describe Fétique’s bows as hard and firm, with a dense sound, especially when dense wood was used.

Many experts say Fétique’s best bows can be superb playing tools. However, others believe that the attention of his atelier seemed to focus on quantity, resulting in bows of more commercial quality. Fétique’s production consists mainly of two parts, with his first period influenced by Charles Nicolas Bazin and later influenced by the Parisian taste of that time: Sartory-Lamy.

Victor Fétique c.1925 | TBV6801
Victor Fétique c.1930 | TC6463

After Fétique began having health problems, the quality of his bows decreased sharply. However, the bows made for him follow his own stylistic shapes, and some of them are of high quality, especially those made by his nephew Andre Richaume, who won an award as best “Ouvriers de France.”

The work by Fétique himself, and his family members is of a very high standard and fully justifies his rank amongst the most important makers of the 20th century. The reworked workshop bows are less consistent and of lesser quality, but they certainly should be noticed. The more expert (and honest) dealers sometimes describe these bows as ‘workshop’, ‘collaboration’, or ‘finished, signed and sold by’.

Vtor Fétique

Fétique signed his bows “Vtor Fétique” and supplied other makers/dealers whose stamps may be used; these include Caressa & Français, Chanot et Chardon, ‘Nadegini’, Paul Jombar, Maucotel et Deschamp and Alfed Vidoudez.

Victor François Fétique was a highly skilled French archetier who left a lasting impact on the world of bowmaking. He learned his craft from some of the best makers of his time, and his bows were sought after by musicians worldwide.

Victor François Fétique Bows For Sale

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