JOSEPH RENE LAFLEUR; THE RESTLESS
No matter which character or background the bow makers have they all have one thing in common; who becomes a bow maker will go into the grave with the planer in hand. All except one; Lafleur, the restless.
Violin bow by Joseph René Lafleur 1840 c.
Joseph René Lafleur happened to be one of the most important bow makers of the French School, and an elective affinity brings me closer to this gentleman – the feeling of restlessness.
Lafleur was born in Paris on the 8th of June 1812. He was son of the violin and bow maker Jaques Lafleur, and Francoise Jaqueline Chéron. Joseph René started to work in an advanced age as a bow maker which, at the time, was quite unlike.
It seems as if he started out doing two distinct professions; violin maker and violinist. He did this until the beginning of the 1830ies where he dedicated himself entirely to bow making.
His father died in 1833, and René began to work at the Francois Lupot II workshop, where he worked until Francois Lupot II died in 1838.
Lafleur married the first time with Chaterine Rouget, who unfortunately died in an early age. Then he married Thérèse Wagner, from whom he had a son; Louis Alphonse, violin maker, who also marked some bows.
After the death of Lupot, Lafleur opened his own workshop in nr. 9, rue di Petit Carreau, and that was when the first signs of restlessness began.
Instead of making bow as a maniac, like his colleagues at the time, Lafleur began to do research and some of the results has shown to be useful and functional.
It is fairly established that the introduction of the silver drawstring that protects the ebony of the frog was his invention.
Lafleur belonged more to the inventor category, than to researchers. This craftsman have had the boldness to make a bow which is not only difficult to make even in these days, but also completely useless; the “multilayered” bow.
The object was made by gluing together lengthwise five pieces of wood, trying to obtain more strength in the structure. Pointless to say that the result wasn't one of the best. Just imagine how the sound must be in a bow made in marine plywood.
Lefleur gave up bow making in 1865, and dedicate himself to music publishing until he died - the 19th of february 1874.
Other than being an experimenter - to times quite extreme, Lafleur was a bow maker of an excellent level.
He was less creative in his style than in the mechanic choice. Lafleur looked for inspiration by his colleagues. In the beginning he obviously followed his Master Francois Lupot II, and after Lupot died Lafleur changed his style towards Nicolas Léonard Tourte. From Tourte he picked up the particularity of the chamfers that join each other in the centre of the rear throat.
In the beginning of the 1850ies, Lafleur approach the style of Maire. Lafleur probably knew Maire personally since Maire in those years had transferred to Paris to work for Jean Baptiste Vuillaume.
The wedges of his bows rose projecting forward, and it recalls the work by his colleague. The chamfer remained little, leaving an excessive presence to the head.
The frog underwent the same transformation. Elongated with deep rounded throats in the beginning of the period, to then transform gradually into a shorter version with a more rectangular throat; this recalls Maline (the pure) more than Maire, in this case.
Other than having an excellent and inborn lightness of his expression, Lafleur also had the enormous fortune, like Dominique Peccatte, to be close to Francois Lupot II. (Originally from Orleans, the place where it was easy to procure pernambuco because of the textile industry. The wood was used to colour the fabric purple).
A particular craftsman, Lafleur, of whom the bows are often compared to the the work made by more noble colleagues. Wood of high quality, and with an excellent cut and mechanic. It is not easy to find a bow of his which is why so little notoriety.
Unfortunately it is destiny to the restless ones that sometimes they invest their time in thinking and realising innovations like the silver drawstring – which we use until today. At other times they loose themselves without realizing that they are theorizing on an idiocy like the “modular” bow.
To read more about this topic:
FRANCOIS LUPOT II 1820 C
NICOLAS LEONARD TOURTE dit “L'Ainè” THE BROTHER
NICOLAS REMY MAIRE; THE HUMBLE
THE CARACTERS OF VUILLAUME
NICOLAS MALINE; BOWMAKER AND ENTREPRENEUR
MAIRE 1855 – 60
THE GOD PECCATTE
FRANCOIS LUPOT II; THE CHAMALEON