In addition to being a renowned and prolific maker of fine violins, Jean Baptiste Vuillaume was a highly successful dealer, connoisseur and inventor. His workshop in Paris employed and trained some of the finest 19th-century violin and bow makers, including Maucotel, Silvestre, Derazey, the Peccatte brothers, Persoit, Fonclause, Simon and Voirin. The workshop, which Vuillaume founded in the rue Croix des Petits Champs in 1827 and moved to the rue Demours-Ternes in 1858, produced over 3,000 instruments, which are similar and abundant enough to be readily identifiable. Most also bear a label, brand, number and signature identifying them as examples of the Vuillaume workshop.
Born in the violin making city of Mirecourt, Vuillaume moved to Paris in 1818 and apprenticed with Chanot before establishing his own workshop, where he began by imitating the work of Lupot. However, Vuilaume quickly gained skill as a copyist of older instruments, particularly those of Stradivari and Guarneri 'del Gesù', which coalesced with an early interest in violin dealing. In 1855 Vuillaume made the astute move to buy up the Italian dealer Luigi Tarisio's stock of 144 instruments, which included some of Stradivari's best works, not least the 'Messiah' of 1716. Among Vuillaume's more interesting inventions are the giant three-stringed octobass and the self-rehairing bow.
Brieuc Vourch plays a very fine Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume loaned to him by Nicolas Paulmier through the Beares International Violin Society.
Both the training and legacy of Gioffredo Cappa have been the focus of significant speculation since at least the 19th century, when he was assumed to have been a pupil of Nicolò Amati. While Cappa's best works do bear Amati labels, his reliance on Amati models probably stems simply from the authority that family wielded on violin making in the late 17th century. It has also been suggested that Cappa was a student of Enrico Catenari, but recent scholars consider this lineage, too, to be improbable. Cappa's work is distinctive and shows some evolution in style. Early on, ribs are set into the back in the style popular with Dutch and Flemish makers of the period. Later instruments show a marked Cremonese influence, especially the soft brown or red varnish, though his efforts are generally less refined than the models he worked from.
Brieuc Vourch plays a very fine Gioffredo Cappa loaned to him by the Zilber-Rampal Foundation.
Kurt Widenhouse, born in 1958, graduated from the Violin Making School of America in Salt Lake City. After six years’ work at shops in three other cities, he established his own in 1990 and has made 250 violins to date. He won VSA gold medals in 1988 and 1994 and was featured on the cover of Strings in 1998. Among fine violinists who have commissioned his instruments are Aaron Rosand and Alexandre Brussilovsky.
In 2013, Brieuc Vourch acquired one of the copies made by Kurt Widenhouse of Aaron Rosand’s Guarneri while he was still a pupil of Aaron Rosand.
One of the great bow makers of the mid 19th century, Nicolas Rémy Maire was probably apprenticed to Étienne Pajeot.
He set up his own establishment in Mirecourt in 1826 but went bankrupt during the French economic crisis of the 1830s. Despite his financial woes he employed numerous workers, and produced a large number of high-quality bows during his career, many for Pajeot, Gand, and J.B. Vuillaume.
After Pajeot's death he moved to Paris but again fell on hard times. Maire's bows often closely resemble his teacher's, although during his time in Paris he also produced some bows in the style of Dominique Peccatte. His brand reads, 'Maire' or 'N. Maire'.