Nicolas Augustin Chappuy Small Viola circa 1770


Nicolas Augustin Chappuy Small ViolaThis is a fine 18th century French viola of the “Vieux Paris” school. It has a very credible Guersan label but in fact it’s the work of Nicolas Chappuy showing many of his trademark touches.

Nicolas Augustin Chappuy was a very prolific maker running a busy workshop. As well as making all kinds of stringed instruments under his own brand, and in varying qualities, Chappuy produced many fine instruments for Salomon.

This viola is pretty good for a Chappuy. The model is elegant, the arching is full and well executed, f-holes, edges and scroll carving all add up to a harmonious whole. The “racing” nicks in the f-holes are very typical, as are their broadly flaring lower tongues.

At one stage this instrument had the lamp-black antiqueing around the C-bouts which was so popular in mid 18th century France, but this has been largely removed and retouched.

The condition is pretty good – there are a few unimportant and well-restored cracks to the table, some minor rib cracking, and there’s a little repair to the very top of the scroll.

This is a lovely sounding instrument, at once bright and dark! It has great attack, and on the surface it’s lively and brilliant, but it also has a deeper woody sustain which underpins the sound. It’s a very expressive instrument, quick off the starting blocks, and solistic in overall character. There are many reasons for a player to favour a smaller instrument, but it’s undeniable that fast passage work and virtuoso repertoire is just a whole lot easier with a shorter string length!

All in all this is a historic viola with a big and flexible sound suitable for demanding repertoire.

Length of back 38.7cm, vibrating string length 35.3cm

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Nicolas Augustin Chappuy Small Viola Nicolas Augustin Chappuy Small Viola Nicolas Augustin Chappuy Small Viola Nicolas Augustin Chappuy Small Viola

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Ref: SR78

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