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Written by Philip Brown and Kathrin Hügel
Lyon is sometimes overlooked when we think of French violin making, even though some very fine makers thrived in the city. Paul Blanchard’s work is stunning, meticulous and refined, probably only surpassed in Lyon by Pierre Silvestre. Blanchard started his working life as an apprentice to Jean-Auguste Darte (1830–92) in Mirecourt, and then worked as an assistant to Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume. In 1876 he set up his own workshop in Lyon. Most of his instruments up to 1885 are very much in the style of, and made for, Hippolyte Chrétien Silvestre (1845–1913) and are stamped with the name ‘H. C. Silvestre’. After 1885, when Silvestre had moved to Paris, Blanchard finally found his own style and began stamping his own name on his instruments. By this point his workshop might have been the largest and most successful in Lyon, directly competing with the best Parisian workshops of the time. Around 1,200 instruments were made there. After Blanchard’s death it was taken over by Emile Boulangeot…
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