Nicolas Maire is one of the few great 19th century French makers not to have worked for Vuillaume. He travelled quite a personal road, always refining and rethinking his style. In this early bow we see something close to Grand Adam – a half-mounted frog without underslide and a rather narrow yet powerful head. The stick is of round section red-brown pernambuco, relatively unfigured but beautifully translucent. Mounts are silver and ebony – the button is a fine copy made recently for the bow by Yannick Le Canu.
The condition is very good but not perfect – there are two minor checks in the grain near the head that have been smoothed down, and there’s a tiny bit of erosion to the top edge of the frog on the player’s side. However, these are common features on bows of this pedigree.
This bow has an extraordinarily luminous tone. It’s not a hunking great stick, and if you’re looking for raw power then it’s not the right choice. But if you’re after a bow that puts the sound in your fingertips and which will control every nuance, then you should try this one. It’s a beautiful bow for chamber music – the sound is bristling with life, and it just makes other bows sound a bit dull.
Definitely not a 20th century bow, it’s supple and sprightly, requiring quite a different technique from a Sartory tank aerial. But it would be hard to imagine a bow that produced a more opulent or expressive sound.
Dimensions: length 74.2cm, weight 60.3 grams
Certificate: Raffin/Le Canu/Bigot, Paris 2018
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