Violin by Paul Bailly, Paris, France, 1887
Description — Charismatic
Every time I look at this Bailly I'm mesmerized by the magnificent bird's eye maple. From what I've read, that rare type of wood is dense and fragile, perhaps that's why the maker left the back very thick (5.4 mm in the center). This one is unbelievably beautiful. Between the "eyes," the figure draws silky diamonds, almost like quilted maple. The two plates of the back are matched with talent and intelligence: the maple movements flowing and bubbling from one side to the other, without any eyes/knots in the soundpost area.
Tone — Soulful
In this violin, projection happens through glitter (instead of percussive power like many instruments) as though a fast vibrato was incorporated into the tone, sparkling, sizzling, spinning — not unlike the bird's eye figures. I'll dare to say this violin offers the ideal tone: mellow under the ear yet very loud, happy in character although very deep, full-bodied yet agile, lovely and consistent in all its registers, open yet well-contained, with punch but never aggressive, both bright and warm, extremely complex but round. The dynamic range is huge, with captivating colors throughout. It's almost difficult to produce a dull tone on this instrument, every note sustains attention with expressive fervor. I usually don't believe in this, but... Occasionally I've had the impression this Bailly was trying to tell me how to interpret the music, "I've played this before, let me show you."
Maker — A Disciple of Vuillaume
The violin bears its original label, with part of Paul Bailly's vitae printed on it. The year's last digit and violin number are in his hand.
Paul Joseph Bailly (1844-1907) was born near Mirecourt, the French violin-making capital, but went to Paris to study with the best. After his internship with Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume, the latter hired him to work on special projects. Some authors believe the famous Vuillaume violin "golden pheasant" of 1862 (among others) was in reality made by Paul Bailly. Within the years 1869-1898, Bailly traveled a lot, working and winning competitions in a multitude of cities, countries and continents. Please look at the reference books for details. Several of his children worked with him, which explains how more than 2000 instruments came out of his shop. Interestingly it is a daughter, Jenny, who inherited his business, one of the first professional female violin makers.
More about Paul Bailly:
Measurements & Data
Maker: Paul Joseph Bailly (1844-1907)
Made in: Paris, France
Back Length: 359 mm *
Upper Bouts: 169 mm *
Middle Bouts: 113 mm *
Lower Bouts: 206 mm *
Stop Length: 195 mm
Rib Height at Neck: 30 mm *
Rib Height at Endpin: 31 mm *
Thickness of the Top: 3.9 mm
Thickness of the Back: 5.4 mm
F-hole Length: 78.4 mm *
Distance Between F-holes: 41.5 mm *
Distance Edge-Purfling: 4.5 mm
Scroll Width: 40 mm *
Weight: 420 grams
10 Médailles Or, Vermeil, Argent et Bronze
à Paris, Sydney, Melbourne, etc.
N°465 PAUL BAILLY (P.B)
Ancien Élève de J.B.VUILLAUME, de Paris
47, rue de Trévise PARIS Année 1887
10 Medals Gold, Vermeil, Silver and Bronze
in Paris, Sydney, Melbourne, etc.
#465 PAUL BAILLY (P.B)
Former Student of J.B.VUILLAUME, from Paris
47, Trévise street PARIS Year 1887
Inscription: To the back,
Paris 1887 ".
Condition: Some wear to the varnish and edges, back middle joint partially reglued, otherwise finely preserved. No cracks. Original neck.
Restoration: Béatrice de Haller, Carouge, Switzerland, 2015.
Certificate: Gilles Chancereul, Paris, France, 2014.
* measured with a caliper