Nicolas Maline Viola Bow, Paris circa 1850

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Nicolas Maline Viola Bow
Nicolas Maline, also known confusingly as Guillaume Maline, is quite a maverick figure from the Golden period of French bow-making. Even his dates are disputed, as is the question of whether or not he worked for Vuillaume. However, his work is unique and distinctive, and of the highest quality.

This is a beautiful and highly collectable Maline viola bow with ivory mounts. I must defer to Bernard Millant’s judgment, but the wood seems very close to pernambuco to me, with a tight grain structure and a subtle flame. I think it’s probably an unimportant distinction in the context of a French bow from the 1850s. The Maline head shape is very characteristic, Pecatte at the front and Simon at the back!

As the certificate confirms, the condition is superb.

This is a great viola bow, very solid, with a fantastically full and rich sound … yet so easy to get off the string. I really wish I understood the technicalities of it, but these classic French bows just play! My own view is that by and large bow-making has taken a wrong turn – we focus too heavily on strength and power in the stick, and in the sort of details which look pretty in photos. A Maline is something thrown off rapidly in an impromptu manner by someone sifting through a pretty random pile of wood, yet knowing what’s the best approach for each individual piece.

Please bear in mind that like many Peccatte school bows, this one is a bit shorter than the modern standard. However, all the better to match it with one of our smaller violas …

Mounts: nickel/ivory

Dimensions: Length 73.6cm, weight 70.7 grams

Certificate: JF Raffin, Paris 2011

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Nicolas Maline Viola Bow Nicolas Maline Viola Bow
Nicolas Maline Viola Bow Nicolas Maline Viola Bow


Nicolas Maline Viola Bow Nicolas Maline Viola Bow


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Ref: SR73

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