Ex-Caraman de Chimay

A decorated violin after Stradivari by Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume

Paris, 1865

labelled Jean Baptiste Vuillaume à Paris, 3, rue Demours-Ternes, JBV, inscribed 1865 on the label, and numbered internally 2611

The quartet of instruments bought from Vuillaume by Victor Charles Antoine de Riquet, second Duc de Caraman, is probably the best known of Vuillaume’s decorated quartets. Legend has it that the quartet was exhibited at the Great Exhibition of 1867 in Paris, where it was spotted by the duke, who presumably requested that his family’s coat of arms be added to the instruments. The quartet had been completed in 1865 and the instruments are numbered 2609-2612, with the cello numbered first.

It is likely that the complete quartet was purchased directly from the Caraman family by W.E. Hill & Sons, who sold the viola and the violin numbered 2611 to Nathan Posner in 1923. It is very exciting to be able to present these two instruments in Notable Sales, reunited so many years later.

In 1954 the viola was sold by Wurlitzers to Carl J. Eberl of Reading, Pennsylvania. In 1993 it was in the possession of Yoshihiro Sawada, and it was acquired by C.M. Sin in 2005. In 2011 it became part of the collection of the Chi Mei Foundation of Tainan, Taiwan.

Detail of the back of the violin

Other instruments we have sold by this maker

Articles related to this instrument

Tim Ingles remembers Sotheby’s Vuillaume exhibition of 2012

15 June 2020

Introduction In the autumn of 2012, which also turned out to be the autumn of my career at Sotheby’s, I had the privilege of handling some of the finest instruments by J.B. Vuillaume, and staging an exhibition of his work... Read more

The Evangelists Quartet by J.B. Vuillaume

17 March 2016

An unparalleled quartet of instruments made by Jean Baptiste Vuillaume in Paris in 1863 was sold in our March 2016 auction for a world record £960,000.

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