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Masters of Bow Making - Exhibition Bows

The SSC have teamed up with Florian Leonhard Fine Violins London, to bring you an exhibition of exquisite antique French bows, held at the Sydney String Centre from 30th April - 9th May.

Below are the bows that will be on display, from celebrated French masters, such as Lamy, Fétique and Sartory, each bow hand-selected in London by our fine instrument specialist Cecily McMahon-Pearce, with prices starting at $45,000.

Along with these fine French bows, we will also have a range of modern and antique bows starting from $10,000 on display.

This amazing selection of bows will only be available for examination and trial until the 9th of May, so please don't hesitate to contact us on 02 9417 2611 or click here if you'd like to have a play.


Joseph Alfred Lamy, born in 1850 in Mirecourt, was one of the most prominent bowmakers of his generation. He began his apprenticeship at the age of 12 in the workshop of Claude Charles Nicolas Husson and in 1876 he moved to Paris to assist François Nicolas Voirin, subsequently establishing his own workshop in Paris in 1885. His legacy is not only contained in his own incredible oeuvre which is greatly sought after among performers across the globe, but also through his student Eugène Sartory who carried the torch of Lamy's style and standard into the 20th Century.  


H. C. Lamy was the first son of Alfred Lamy, one of the most well-known and sought after bow makers of the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. A. Lamy was most influenced by figures like Voirin and Vuillaume, and carried the Parisian tradition through from them into the 20th Century, where his legacy was continued by H. C. Lamy and his contemporary Eugene Sartory. H. C.'s model was very similar to his father's, but like many other makers of his time, as the performance practice grew stronger and more robust in the early 20th Century, so too did their bows. This most often is evident at the tip of the bow with a slight widening of the head, and slightly larger proportions overall. When his father died in 1919, H. C. Lamy took over his workshop in Paris, where he worked until his death in 1942.


Sartory was one of the most important and influential bow-makers in the artform, with his bows being seen as the endpoint of development, quality, and consistency in the French tradition of François Xavier Tourte. He was born in 1871 in Mirecourt, working as an apprentice with his father, Charles Peccatte, and Joseph Alfred Lamy, before establishing his own workshop in 1889. His bows are often heavier and more stable than his earlier contemporaries, well reflecting the growing need for projection and intensity going into the 20th Century. It is well known that one of his main supporters was the inimitable Eugène Ysaÿe, which attests to Sartory's importance both to the tradition of bow-making and to the concept of violin modern performance, just as François Tourte's bows defined the early French School of performance with Viotti, Baillot, and Rode.  


Born in 1891, Louis Henri Gillet was a highly respected French bow maker trained in Mirecourt, and was well known for both his connection with Eugène Sartory, as well as his own immaculate workmanship. His early training was quite extensive, most likely apprenticing with Auguste Barbé before starting out under Jérôme Thibouville-Lamy between 1906 and 1911, and moving to the Laberte workshop after he was injured in WWI. He established his own workshop in Chalon-sur-Saône sometime between 1924 and 1930, where he made bows for a number of different firms. In 1934 he became Sartory’s assistant, collaborating with him until Sartory died in 1946. According to William Henley, Gillet’s work was “first class” and “favoured by several French soloists,” and his bows included similarities to Sartory’s style, and also later on to Peccatte’s, with stronger and broader proportions. While he is often considered to be overshadowed by Sartory’s phenomenal reputation, many esteem Gillet’s bows as almost perfect player’s bows in their own right.


Joseph Henry was a French bow maker widely acclaimed for the fineness of his work, and who worked quite closely with a number of other bow makers in Paris during the mid-19th Century. Born in 1823, Henry moved to Paris in 1837 at the age of 14, where he began working as an apprentice. He started in the workshop of Georges Chanot, and subsequently moved to work under Dominique Peccatte, where he eventually began to develop a personal style and moved to a more collaborative position with Peccatte. Peccatte returned to Mirecourt in the 1840’s, his workshop being left under the care of Pierre Simon, with whom Henry worked quite closely for a number of years. Between his work at these workshops, his own independent work, and his collaborations with Gand frères and possible Vuillaume, Henry produced an extensive number of bows of a variety of styles and models, all of which are of extraordinary quality.


Victor François Fétique was born in 1872 in Mirecourt, and was the son of violin maker Charles Claude Fétique, beginning his training as a bow maker with Charles Claude Husson. He first worked in the firms of Nicolas Bazin and Caressa & Français before establishing his own workshop in Paris in 1913. Over the next few decades, his workmanship and reputation increased to the point that, according to William Henley, he had the title “Greatest archetier in France” conferred to him at the Paris Exhibition in 1927. With him in his workshop were several other members of his close family, including his brother Jules Fétique, his son Marcel Fétique, and his nephew André Richaume, and these makers are responsible for some of the finest bows and workmanship from the early 20th Century. Fétique’s style was often close to that of Claude Thomassin, through he was also fluent as a copyist, producing many different models including those of Tourte, Lupot, and Voirin.


Joseph Arthur Vigneron was born in Mirecourt in 1851 and was the step-son and student of Claude Nicolas Husson, with whom he began learning the art of bow making until about 1872. In the 1880’s, he worked for some time with Gand & Bernardel in Paris, before establishing his own workshop in 1888. He is known as producing two main models of bows, one slightly heavier often with octagonal sticks, and a lighter model, both of which were of “unique resistance, equilibrium and elasticity” according to Henley. In contrast to some of his other colleagues among the great French bow makers, Vigneron père’s bows leant more towards function over form, and eschewing from some of the more ornamental elements of bows common in this period he produced a great number of beautiful players’ bows.


James Tubbs was born in 1835, and was one of the most well-respected English bow-makers of his time, matching both the quality and output of the best makers in Paris and Mirecourt. He was born into the Tubbs family, who are well known for continuing the legacy of English bow making from the Dodd family, who led the tradition in England for much of the 18th and early 19th Centuries. James Tubbs first worked for his father, training within his family as was common at the time, before he began collaborating with William Ebsworth Hill in the late 1850's.

Don't Miss the exhibition night with special guest speaker from Florian Leonhard Fine Violins London, Lauri Tanner

Join us Saturday 4th May 5:30pm, for a night of French wine, fine French bows, and a talk from our special visiting guest, Lauri Tanner - Head of Bow Making and Restoration at Florian Leonhard Fine Violins London.

Lauri, along with bow aficionados David Glanville & Phil Hartl will be discussing the makings of a good bow, rehairs, bow maintenance & more.