Jacques-Pierre Thibout is perhaps the most artistic of the Parisian makers. He was a contemporary of Nicholas Lupot, and if he had made faithful Strad copies rather than pursuing his own model he would probably be the better known maker. Here we have a beautiful example in immaculate condition – definitely the finest Thibout I have seen and the best sounding too.

The most exciting period in French violin-making began with Lupot’s move to Paris and ended with Vuillaume – all the great violins were made in this period by such extraordinary makers as Gand, Georges Chanot, ASP Bernardel, Aldric and Thibout. These makers attained a unique synthesis of craftsmanship and sound, and they represent a golden age of French making.

This violin is a brilliant expression of that particular zeitgeist – an innovative model developed for sound, unsurpassed flair in execution, and some great aesthetic touches. The varnish in particular is outstanding.

The condition is unusually good too – the varnish has some wear to the back, but there are no cracks or damages whatsoever, and the neck is original and ungrafted.

This violin is a real collector’s piece, but it’s also a testament to Thibout’s relentless experimentation with sound. It’s at once delicate and muscular, with a beautifully clean tone that nonetheless has a wide expressive range. Crisp and shimmering, very precise under the fingers but also very musical – very much the quality of a good Strad, pin-sharp clarity but always with this opulent harmonic halo … the experience of playing this instrument is somehow ennobling.

Violins with this quality of tone come across once in a blue moon, and even more rarely in such a visually appealing form.

In brief, a historically important and uniquely beautiful violin for a serious conoisseur or recital soloist.

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