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François Fent, French viola of the late 18th century - table
François Fent, French viola of the late 18th century - table
François Fent, a fine historic viola of the late 18th century - back
François Fent, a fine historic viola of the late 18th century - back
François Fent, a fine historic French viola - ribs
François Fent, a fine historic French viola - ribs
François Fent, violon alto francais 18eme - volute
François Fent, violon alto francais 18eme - volute
Inventory No.: 3733
Provenance: Paris
Maker: François Fent
Length of back: 39.7 cm
Year: approx. 1780

François Fent, a fine historic French viola of the late 18th century (certificate Hieronymus Köstler)

A leading name in late 18th century French violin making, François Fent was the maker of this fine historic viola, a rarity with an exceptionally good sound and a distinguished provenance. This is a late work by Fent, who hailed from Füssen, Germany, and it represents the influence this highly talented master had within a subdiscipline of violin making which at the time was establishing the standards of crafting instruments for solo performance. The acoustic properties of this fine viola - resonant, rich in character and outstandingly well balanced - demonstrate the historic significance of its maker, who established a superb name for himself in Paris. In addition to his immediate spheres of influence, he also had a great effect on English violin making as the teacher to his nephew Bernhard Simon Fendt, who moved to London around 1798; Bernhard Fendt’s four sons are considered equal in repute to the founders of the famous Chanot dynasty of violin makers. François Fent was the most important master of his day before Nicolas Lupot, and like the English branch of the Fendt family, he too was intimately familiar with the classic historic Italian instruments. The Stradivari model this viola was based on is an expressive tribute to the way in which he consistently approached his work, which is regarded as having paved the way for the Lupot school. Parts of the fine reddish-brown oil varnish have darkened dramatically, which is typical of his work, and over the years it developed delicate crackling – a charming aesthetic which complements the narrow flames of the two-piece back and the premium moderately-grained spruce of the top. The petite scroll is a playful and intricately crafted masterpiece which, like the back of the body, was marked with Fent’s seal. This viola has been kept in excellent condition free of cracks, which is no small matter in light of its advanced age. A few contemporary restorations have been made with the greatest care and expertise, thus preserving the authentic aesthetic and musical quality of the instrument. With its mature voice full of sweetness and elegant warmth, it has a compelling sound, singing and bright in the upper registers. A certificate by the Stuttgart expert Hieronymus Köstler is included in the price.

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