Jean-François Raffin examines a gold-mounted violin bow by François Xavier Tourte

16 Oct 2019


François Xavier Tourte trained as a watchmaker before becoming the assistant of his bow maker brother Nicolas Léonard. He worked with the celebrated violinists of his day, G.B. Viotti and Rodolphe Kreutzer, to develop what we now know as the modern bow. Tourte’s work of the period 1800-1825 is considered the pinnacle of French bow making.

This beautiful gold-mounted violin bow by was made around 1820, when Tourte was at the height of his powers as a bow maker. This period produced the finest and most beautiful examples of his work, characterised by the ‘hatchet’ style head, a squarer frog than in his previous work, and almost invariably an octagonal stick.


'Gold-mounted Tourte bows are few and far between'


This bow was originally mounted in gold, but unfortunately the ferrule, the heel plate and the button were made as later replacements in the Tourte style. The original pearl slide and gold back plate do however indicate that the metal work was originally gold. During this period it is rare to see bows mounted in precious metals, so gold-mounted Tourte bows are few and far between.

This is a wonderful opportunity for a musician to acquire the work of this legendary maker, which combines the mythical sound of this master with modern playing requirements. The bow has an extraordinary clarity and range of overtones, and very well balanced, giving a smooth transition from frog to tip.

Jean-François Raffin, October 2019


A gold-mounted violin bow by F.X. Tourte, Paris, circa 1820
A gold-mounted violin bow by F.X. Tourte, Paris, circa 1820

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