In Focus: An 1824 violin by Nicolas Lupot

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Richard Ward looks at an instrument made in the last year of the French luthier’s life

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If Italy was the centre of violin making in the 18th century, France, especially Paris, was its capital in the 19th. After the French Revolution, Paris became the cultural centre of the world and it was only natural that the best violin makers would flock there. The finest and most important of these makers was Nicolas Lupot.

Lupot began his career in Orléans with his father François, making violins very much in the 18th-century style, highly arched with a rather dry yellow varnish. Nicolas was able to set up on his own in 1782, becoming quite successful. During that time he made contact with the Paris-based François Pique, who had established an important shop patronised by the most influential musicians. He familiarised Lupot with the work of Antonio Stradivari and the other great Cremonese masters, and encouraged him to come to the capital. With Pique’s help Lupot settled at Rue de Gramont in 1796. Because of political unrest at that time, the market for new violins was limited and so Lupot did mostly repairs and restorations. He did, however, have the opportunity to see and study the finest Italian violins, which had not been easily available to him in Orléans. He soon began creating instruments in the style of the great Cremonese makers…

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