This is a remarkable and very rare viola bow by Nicolas Maire in excellent condition – a light and supple stick which draws a big sound.

The Pajeot-Maire collaboration saw many experiments in bow-making, and gave rise to some of the most stylish bows of the early 19th century. This bow is a nice example – just a few little touches elevate it beyond the norm. The return on the underslide is a classic feature designed to protect the thumb projection from wear – the composite pearl eye is more of an aesthetic choice, as is the beautifully decorated collar to the adjuster.

The stick is of round-section orange brown pernambuco of exceptional quality with a dramatic random figure. Mounts are silver and ebony.

There are no significant condition issues – there are some marks on the head and some small dunts and scratches here and there, but there are no repairs.

The most remarkable thing about this bow is the sound – a rare combination of clarity and density. As with most bows of the period, the stick is quite supple, but you don’t need pressure to get a full sound, and the articulation can be controlled by the tension.

Once you have the measure of this kind of bow there’s no going back – it offers a connection with the music that you just don’t get with a bow built with a more modern sensibility, and many bows that seemed excellent will suddenly feel a bit dead by comparison.

Clean off the string work, great attack and focus in fast passages, and a golden legato – what more can you ask from a bow?

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