Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume Viola - pattern interpreted by GRS

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Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume Viola - pattern interpreted by GRS


Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume (October 7, 1798 – March 19, 1875) was a French luthier. He made over 3,000 instruments and was also a fine businessman and an inventor.

Early life

Born to a Mirecourt family since both his grandfather and his father were engaged in the same trade, Vuillaume arrived in Paris in 1818 to work for François Chanot. In 1821, he joined the workshop of Simon Lété, François-Louis Pique's son-in-law, Rue Pavée St. Sauveur. He became his partner and in 1825 settled in the Rue Croix des Petits-Champs under the name of "Lété et Vuillaume". His first labels are dated 1823.

First period

Beginning in 1827, at the height of the Neo-Gothic period when many artists were drawing their inspiration from 15th and 16th century cathedrals and monuments, and in order to satisfy the demand of virtuosi and amateurs for great 18th century Italian violin makers, he started to imitate old instruments. Some copies were so perfect that, at that time, it was difficult even for a discerning eye to tell the difference.[citation needed]

In 1827, he won a silver medal at the Paris Universal Exhibition. The following year, in 1828, he set his own business at 46 Rue Croix des Petits-Champs and began creating his own models.

Second period

His workshop then became the most important in the capital. Within barely twenty years, it became the leading workshop in Europe. A major factor in his success was doubtless his purchase of 144 instruments made by the most celebrated Italian masters, including 24 Stradivari and the famous Messiah Stradivarius presently kept at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford University, from the heirs of an Italian tradesman named Luigi Tarisio, for 80,000 francs in 1855.[citation needed]

Third period

In 1858, in order to avoid paying the capital's custom-duties on his wood imports, he settled at Rue Pierre Demours, near the Ternes, which were outside Paris at the time.

He was then at the height of success, having won various gold medals in the competitions of the popular Paris Universal Exhibitions in 1839, 1844 and 1855, the Council Medal in London in 1851 and, in that same year, the Legion of Honour.[citation needed] His third period, the Golden Period, continued until his death.


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Serial Number 

LI IV 2013


This viola is based on a pattern traced from a Jean Baptist Vuillaume viola.


Top: European Spruce; 25 years air dried; 2 piece; fine even straight grain

Back: European Maple; 25 years air dried; 2 piece; strong flamed


Fire red; spirit fused with oils


Overall length:             65.5 cm                           Back length:                                  39.5 cm    

Width upper back:         18.5 cm                           Rib HT at neck / end block:       37 mm / 38 mm

Width middle back:       12.5 cm                           Mensure (Stop):                              21.9 cm

Width lower back:           23 cm                           Vibrating string length:                36.6 cm

Neck length:                   14.7 cm                            Neck projection:                             33 cm

Distance between upper eyes of F-holes:              49.5 mm

Distance between lower eye and C-bout:                  14 mm

Distance at center of sound hole to bass bar:          19 mm

Please call for additional details or set an appointment to see and play this instrument.