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Virtual Tour of
"Beethoven & Berlioz, Paris & Vienna:
Musical Treasures from the Age of Revolution & Romance
1789-1848"


Three Bows by Tourte l'aîné and François Xavier Tourte (Tourte le jeune)

1. Violin bow attributed to François Xavier Tourte (Tourte le jeune), Paris, ca. 1775-1790

NMM 3409.  Violin bow attributed to François Xavier Tourte (Tourte le jeune), Paris, ca. 1775-1790.

NMM 3409.  Violin bow attributed to François Xavier Tourte (Tourte le jeune), Paris, ca. 1775-1790.

NMM 3409. Violin bow attributed to François Xavier Tourte (Tourte le jeune), Paris, ca. 1775-1790. Built by the most famous member of the family, sometimes called the "inventor" of the modern bow. Basically, he synthesized the work of many predecessors to produce a bow that set a standard for bowmaking, beauty, and extraordinary workmanship, that still endures. Witten-Rawlins Collection, 1984.

2. Violin bow attributed to Tourte l'aîné, Paris, ca. 1790

NMM 3391.  Violin bow attributed to Tourte l'aîné, Paris, ca. 1790.

NMM 3391.  Violin bow attributed to Tourte l'aîné, Paris, ca. 1790.

NMM 3391. Violin bow attributed to Tourte l'aîne, Paris, ca. 1790. Built probably by the elder son of the first generation of a family of great French bowmakers, this example supports the opinion of François-Joseph Fétis, Belgian music historian and critic, who wrote that the bows "were highly regarded at that time because of their lightness, but most of them are made of wood inferior in quality." Indeed, this stick shows irregular growth and two knots. Ex coll.: E. M. W. Paul, London. Witten-Rawlins Collection, 1984.

3. Viola/violin bow attributed to François Xavier Tourte (Tourte le jeune), Paris, ca. 1800-1810

NMM 3392.  Viola/violin bow attributed to François Xavier Tourte (Tourte le jeune), Paris, ca. 1800-1810.

NMM 3392.  Viola/violin bow attributed to François Xavier Tourte (Tourte le jeune), Paris, ca. 1800-1810.

NMM 3392. Viola/violin bow attributed to François Xavier Tourte (Tourte le jeune), Paris, ca. 1800-1810. Of relatively massive construction, probably designed to be a viola bow. Tourte bows were not stamped with the maker's names, let alone dated, so attributions become a matter of connoisseurship, as is often the case in the museum world. Ex coll.: Eugène Ysaÿe, Brussels. Witten-Rawlins Collection, 1984.

Source: André P. Larson, Beethoven & Berlioz, Paris & Vienna: Musical Treasures from the Age of Revolution & Romance 1789-1848, with essay by John Koster, exhibition catalog, Washington Pavilion, Sioux Falls, South Dakota, September 12-November 2, 2003 (Vermillion: National Music Museum 2003), p. 35.

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