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A violin by Joseph Hel, Lille 1874

Price range: £25,000 - £50,000

A great French maker of the late 19th century, Joseph Hel began his career as a luthier at the age of fourteen, where he apprenticed at the Mirecourt workshop of Francois Salzard. It was here that he learnt the art of violin making and the true passion that lies behind the craft.

Hel went on to apprentice in other workshops across Mirecourt before settling in Paris, to work in the shop of Sebastien Vuillaume – the youngest member of the renowned Vuillaume family. In 1895, he opened up his own shop in Lille, where he went on to create 750 instruments.

Hel’s talent and skill, which was developed over a number of years, showed in the quality of his work. Using mostly Cremonese patterns, the materials he used were excellent and the instruments he created were exceptional in appearance and sound. His impressive style of making would be used as a benchmark for French luthiers in years to come and are still held in high regard today.

This violin is a very early example, and plays like it looks…dark and broody sounding! I hope you get what I mean!

Rampal certificate

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