Friday 19 February 2016

The ‘Evangelists’ by Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume to be offered for sale on 15 March, 2016

Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume - The Evangelists
Matched quartets of historic stringed instruments (two violins, viola and cello) do not become available every day and in March there is the opportunity for some king philanthropist to acquire the a set called the Evangelists and enable them to be played. The Evangelists is quartet of stringed instruments made by one of the greatest luthiers of the 19th century, Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume. Made in Paris in 1863, the four instruments are each based on instruments by Stradivarius, and in fact Vuillaume owned a collection of historic instruments including 25 Stravariuses which he bought in 1855. 

Between 1863 and 1872, Vuillaume made around a dozen instruments dedicated to saints, of which nine survive (he also named instruments after birds). The four most important of the saints are those named after the four Evangelists, a quartet made from matching wood and each has a carved tailpiece depicting an Evangelist. The instruments are evidently in a good state of preservation, with little damage and much original varnish patina. The Evangelists is the only quartet by Vuillaume where the four instruments are still together today. You can hear the quartet being played By the Ruisi Quartet in the video:

This remarkable set of instruments is being offered for auction. The Ingles & Hayday auction takes place at Sotheby’s, London, on 15 March 2016 at 2pm and can be viewed online.

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