Lot 180
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Estimation :
500000 - 600000 EUR
EXCEPTIONAL INSTRUMENT DELIVERED FOR THE KING SUN'S MUSIC IN VERSAILLES Bass violin also called processional violin with medium wave maple back and sides. The top is made of two pieces of spruce. The back of the instrument (recut) is painted with the large royal arms of France inscribed in a circle under a closed royal crown as well as foliated scrolls in the upper part. The ribs bear the painted inscription: "Sit nomen Domini benedictum" from Psalm 112 ("Blessed be the name of the Lord"). Lilies painted in the corners of the soundboard and a trace of a rosette under the fingerboard. Nice original oil varnish. By Jacques BOQUAY (circa 1700-1710), master violin maker active from 1700 to 1730. Early 18th century, circa 1700-1710. Measurement on the back : 75 cm (Transformation and adaptation into a cello according to the modern traditional canons, table and back cut in the width, soundholes modified, rosette under the fingerboard filled in, some repairs, neck, fingerboard and head attached) Seal trace (illegible) in red wax "...er arr." under the back heel. Handwritten label inside: "d'Harcourt / table de Boquay / le dedans est pendu au magasin" and inventory number 270. PROVENANCE: - made by luthier Jacques Boquay around 1700-1710 probably for Prosper Charlot (1640-1710), Jean-Baptiste la Fontaine (1667-1729) or Joseph Marchand (+1737), all three basses of the King's Music. - probably passed to the d'Harcourt family. - Charles Enel collection (1880-1954) - Frédéric Boyer collection, then by descent. PUBLICATION: - Norbert Dufourcq, "La Musique, les hommes, les instruments, les oeuvres...", 1965, reproduced p. 213. 1965, p. 213, described as : "Cello case from the beginning of the XVIIIth century, probably made by Boquay. The instrument must have belonged to an artist of a royal chapel. The beginning of the verse Sit nomen Domini can be read on the ribs. Enel Collection." 500,000/600,000 Attempting to render the royal arms of France in their entirety, the latter being inscribed in a circle, one can easily assume a width diminished by 5.6 cm through the middle of the table at the time of its adaptation into a cello. The instrument in its original state must therefore have been 59.7 cm at its widest. This exceptional instrument is to date the only known witness to the music played for the Sun King at Versailles. It was made for a bass violinist of the French Court at Versailles, then under the musical direction of the famous Martin Richard de Lalande (1657-1726) whose glorious superintendence extended from 1686 to 1726. This rare instrument is also quite contemporary with the inauguration of the royal chapel at the château in 1710, the site of the Catholic king's most accomplished musical expression. The omnipresence of violin ensembles in liturgical music - as in other musical forms that entertained and glorified the sovereign - is well known, and this instrument is the exceptional and unique surviving testimony to this. At the French court, music is daily and omnipresent. It gave rhythm to the ordinary and the extraordinary. It accompanied religious services and graced royal entertainments, enhancing the lustre of ceremonies or relaxing the sovereigns and courtiers in their private lives. As much an element of entertainment as a political tool, it contributes to the assertion of power and is a major element of the identity, power and influence of the monarchy. The Court of France has always maintained a corps dedicated to this purpose: capable of permanently providing the music and the personnel necessary for its performance. Louis XIV completed the structuring of the music of the French Court: it was during his reign that the Musique du Roi reached its apogee, according to an organization that underwent few changes between 1682 and 1761. At the time of the Sun King's death, the ensemble consisted of about 200 singers and instrumentalists, divided among the three main departments of the King's household: the Stables, the Chapel and the Chamber. These three bodies shared the organisation of daily musical life, performances and extraordinary or formal ceremonies, under the supervision of the Menus-Plaisirs, responsible for the logistics and administration of court life. Our instrument is contemporary with this sumptuous period. As the Music of the King's Stables did not include a bass violin in its regular line-up, we will concentrate on the departments of the Chambre and the Chapelle. At the beginning of the 18th century, the Music of the Chambre was divided into two large institutions: the Grande Bande (known as the Vingtquatre Violons du Roi) and the Petite Bande (known as the Violons du Cabinet). - The Grande Bande (The twenty-four Violins of the
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