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'Documenting the Violin Trade in Paris: The Archives of Albert Caressa and Émile Français, 1930-1945'

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Documenting the Violin Trade in Paris: The Archives of Albert Caressa and Émile Français, 1930-1945


Carla Shapreau, Christine Laloue, and Jean-Philippe Échard


October 2019


Through the lens of one of France’s most important violin dealers the subject of provenance in the pre-war and World War II eras is confronted.  This case study bridges the archival gap between historical records held by the Smithsonian Institution and the Musée de la musique penned by the Parisian violin dealers Caressa & Français and later Emile Français.  Once one, these two collections were split apart in the late twentieth century.  Rejoined and analyzed these primary source materials provide a rare view into provenance, authenticity, and valuation and contribute to an understanding of the social, economic, geographic, and political landscape that revolved around international transactions in the rarified world of violins and its network of experts, dealers, musicians, teachers, collectors, suppliers, and others. This study contributes a new musical facet to the ongoing international dialogue regarding art market transactions during the Nazi era and the need for provenance analysis.



Collecting and Provenance: A Multidisciplinary Approach, eds., Jane Milosch and Nick Pearce, Smithsonian Provenance Research Initiative, Smithsonian Institution and University of Glasgow in association with Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, October 2019,


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