Claude Pierray, 1698-1730

Claude Pierry (fc. 1700-1729) was one of the most outstanding early luthiers in France. He not only made string instruments and antique instruments, but was also a skillful harpsichord repair technician.

Pierry used wood of varying thickness for his instruments, so his instruments show varying proportions. Although his instruments do not project a robust, dynamic timbre, they reveal tone colors that can be described as having a sweet, beautiful nature.

Pierry’s violin making style is similar to that of the Amati family, but after careful examination one can detect that the body of Pierry’s instruments is usually longer, and show a unique carving along the top of the sound holes. One of his biggest contributions is his selection of wood. His instruments are made with top quality wood and designed with fine craftsmanship. The scrolls of his instruments show no special ornamentations but nevertheless reveal a natural elegance. However, his experimentation with wood of varying thickness sometimes resulted in the front plate being too thick and the back being too thin. In terms of the ribs, Pierry used the inlay rib technique of the Belgian system.

Pierry used two coats of varnishes for his instruments. The varnishes are of a thin-texture, usually of a light-red or dark-orange color, showing a bright luster, but today the colors have mostly turned to a dark black hue due to oxidation. His choice of varnishes and their texture show a clear influence from the system originating from southern Germany.

Most of Pierry’s instruments are of slightly larger sizes. In addition to making exquisite violins, he also made many cellos. Although he has been criticized for making his cellos slightly smaller than most, this does not seem to affect their distinctive timbre.

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