Joseph Couturieux or Couturieux “Fils” is a little known maker who worked briefly for JB Vuillaume. This beautiful viola is something of an enigma – it has a Vuillaume label, it looks in many ways like a Vuillaume, yet it has an original Couturieux signature.
This is a very fine Parisian instrument in near-mint condition, very close in concept to Vuillaume’s Strad models. The work is exact and artistic – of special note are the pins set half under the purfling on the back and the exquisitely carved scroll. We also find these pins in many Vuillaumes as well as Charles Adolphe Maucotel.
This viola is in spectacular condition – the only defect I can find is a small insert in the upper left back, with an edge crack above. Otherwise the instrument is near mint condition. The varnish, which sits somewhere between Vuillaume and early Caussin, is all original and perfectly preserved.
This is a rather refined instrument, rich yet delicate with lots of sustain. Smooth and charming, it’s not going to blow eardrums at the back of the Albert Hall but it would be ideal for a chamber musician looking for a quick response and a sophisticated sound in a drawing-room sized package. It has full arching and has a surprisingly satisfying low register – the overall character is rather poignant and introspective.
It’s also a real collector’s piece, and a precious reference example for this maker.
Length of back 39cm, vibrating string length 349mm
Certificate: JJ Rampal, Paris (pro forma)
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