French Violin Making

Mirecourt old photo

Mirecourt was the cradle of French violin and bow makers and at its heart for several centuries. Mirecourt is a town in the French region of Lorraine. It located on the banks of le Madon river in the North East of France.  

The archives of the city first mention “violin makers” in 1606. According to Wikipedia 43 luthiers were working in Mirecourt by 1635. At the request of the Duchess of Lorraine, Elisabeth-Charlotte, a charter was signed in 1732 which allowed violin making to become a trade in its own right. There were strict guild rules to be followed by the luthiers (violin makers) and archetiers (bow makers). Violin making in Mirecourt had a huge influence beyond the confines of the town.

The style of the French Mirecourt instrument was mainly based on templates of Italian masters. 

Dietrich Lasa, the founder of Animato Strings, shares the option of those who consider the sound of French violins superior to German and Eastern European violins.

Violin making was often a family business with sons apprenticed to their fathers before branching out to train in other workshops. 

Very few violins show faked labels are found in French violins from Mirecourt, and this may be an indication of the pride they had in their craft. Sometimes, labels gave Paris as the city of origin, however counterfeit labels with Italian names were not used as, for example, in Germany between 1880 and 1930.

In Mirecourt, labels and marks would sometimes be sold to another house who would then continue in the use of the previous workshop's labels. This was done as a way of honouring the traditions of the master. 

Mircourt Workshop

After the second world war, violin making in Mirecourt disappeared due to the loss of so many young men and the difficulty obtaining suitable timers and tools. 

However, Mirecourt was revitalised as a centre for violin and bow making since Etienne Vatelot established the Mirecourt National School of Lutherie in 1970. Luthiers are again producing instruments in Mirecourt. 

Violin Making School Mirecourt

Above: The School of Violin Making in Mirecourt. Below are photos of the Mirecourt Museum of Violin Making with a translated comment of a visitor.

Mirecourt Museum for Violin Making
Violin Making Museum Mirecourt

​Christophe D: 'My 5 stars refer to the exhibition, which I visited Easter 2013. The museum shows how instruments are made in France's violin Making Tradition. Each instrument was shown instages from the beginning to the end of its makiing. In the museum you can touch everything, and you can play individual instruments (if you can). You can always get some sound.  In the museum itself contains a gigantic violin, anf you can go inside that violin to see it from the inside. The staff is happy to explain everything. I enjoyed the visit with lot of fun.'