Louis Gillet is best known for his collaboration with Eugène Sartory,. Here we have a very fine Sartory inspired viola bow in excellent condition, and with playing qualities very similar to a good Sartory.

An unusually good bow by this maker who deserves to be celebrated in his own right rather than merely as an assistant to Sartory. Gillet produced many fine bows before starting to work for Sartory – this is of course why sartory took an interest in him – but it’s true that his best work came during and after this period.

This is a typical example from the 1940s, possibly made for Sartory but never delivered, and then branded retrospectively. The stick is of round section dark red-brown pernambuco with some subtle marking, mounts are silver and ebony.

The condition is generally exemplary, though there’s some significant nibbling to the top of the stick from “orchestral applause”.

This bow is a great player with a chocolate-smooth sound, perfect balance and a lively but eminently controllable action. There’s a nice aggressive dig to the sound, but the overall character is dark and opulent. Sartory viola bows can be overly stiff and a but unresponsive in the hand, but this bow manages to retain the solidity and imperturbability of a Sartory while introducing a degree of excitement and panache!

All in all a very successful bow by a great 20th century French maker.

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Martin Swan

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