Joseph René Lafleur is one of a number of great makers whose work sits between that of FX Tourte and the Peccatte school. This bow is very typical of his early work and close to that of his teacher Francois Lupot. It has some minor issues but it’s an outstanding player.
Lafleur was a great innovator in his later work, but this bow is very firmly in the tradition of Francois Lupot, with a shallow frog without underslide and a Tourte-inspired head. The chamfers are wide and as usual a bit bumpy towards the top, with a sharp curve into the length of the stick.
The stick is of round section pernambuco of unusually fine quality, highly figured and refractive. The narrow and lightweight frog has no underslide, and is fully mounted with pearl. The adjuster is of the period but not original to the stick.
Considering it’s nearly 200 years old this bow is remarkably well preserved. There is a small repaired pin crack at the base of the rear facet of the head, and the top of the head has a few minor dents – otherwise there’s nothing to report.
It’s hard for any bowmaker who finds himself sandwiched between FX Tourte and Peccatte, and it’s safe to say that Lafeur has been consistently under-rated as a result. But all the bows we have come across by this maker have been excellent, and this one is no exception. The sound is bright, full and complex, with a breadth of tone that is so characteristic of this period in French bows.
It’s important to stress that this isn’t a Sartory – it’s quite a supple stick which sits in the strings and makes a fabulous sound, rather than a mallet that you would use to hammer in a fencepost. It’s ideal for classical repertoire – sprightly, refined, pure but not too pure, all in all a very classy bow, and just the thing if you can’t quite afford a Tourte!