François Xavier Tourte (b. 1748–d. 1835)

Also known as Tourte ‘le Jeune’ to distinguish him from his elder brother, Nicolas Léonard, François Xavier Tourte is probably the most important figure in the history of modern bow making. His violin, viola, and cello bows are exquisite and command the highest prices for their extraordinary craftsmanship, elegance and appreciation by players. Tourte initially worked as a clockmaker but began making bows around 1774–5. The first definitive evidence of the existence of an independent Tourte workshop on the Quai de l’Ecole dates from 1800, but Tourte was certainly active before that date, possibly in collaboration with his brother. Read more on Cozio.

François Xavier Tourte c. 1765–70

This exceptional violin bow in pernambuco has remarkably fine and elegant fluting on the upper two-thirds of the stick. The high upright head follows the Italian style compared to the pike-head model that was more commonly employed by his father. The frog has delicate chamfers on the edges of the throat and the ivory button is compact with discrete collars and no ball decoration at the end. The head and frog mortises are similar to those of the later work of François Xavier. A similar early example can be found in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.

  • François Xavier Tourte c. 1765–70