‘The great artistry of history’s most important bow maker’ - François Xavier Tourte

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Paul Childs compares and contrasts two very late violin bows by François Xavier Tourte

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The very late bows of François Tourte are most interesting for a variety of reasons. First of all, we can’t be sure precisely when he stopped making them. His last listing in the Parisian Almanach de Commerce  is 1833, but there was sometimes a lag in the deletion of these ‘annonces’, and it’s best not to take it literally that he was still working at the bench in that year. Generally, a consensus of experts suggests that about 1832 is as accurate as we can be for now.

Tourte’s address in his retirement, and where he died soon after, was 38 rue Dauphine (a building that still exists, renumbered as number 32). This is a ten-minute walk across the Pont Neuf from 10 Quai de l’École, where he had lived and worked since 1806, though perhaps taking longer for someone in his mid-eighties…

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