Pierre-Joseph Hel is one of the most important French violin makers of the latter half of the 19th century. He won numerous awards and first prizes for his instruments and proudly displayed the insignia of his awards on the labels inside his instruments. One was a Gold Medal won at the 1889 Paris Exposition, an event that not only celebrated the centennial of the French Revolution, but included the construction of the Eiffel Tower.
It was at the suggestion of Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume that Hel set up shop in Lille in northern France in 1865. There, Hel became the violin maker to the Lille Conservatoire. Several of Hel’s instruments, known for their outstanding sound, were owned by Eugene Ysaye.
Hel made about 640 violins; the one pictured here is number 500. This instrument was built in 1899 for exhibition at the 1900 Paris Exposition. It exemplifies magnificent craftsmanship and choice of tone wood, especially in its maple back and its characteristic label displays the words, ‘Exposition Universelle Paris 1889, MEDALLE D’ OR’. This instrument remained in the Hel family for almost one hundred years and is now for sale at Hans Weisshaar, remarkably, along with its original wooden case. It is a specialty instrument for the professional player and instrument connoisseur.
Please make an appointment at +1 (323) 466-6293 to see this instrument.