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Images from The Cutler Gallery

Violin by Chanot & Lété Workshop, Paris, ca. 1819

NMM 5972.  Violin by Chanot & Lété workshop, Paris, ca. 1819 Side view of Chanot violin Back of Chanot violin

NMM 5972. Violin by Chanot & Lété workshop, Paris, ca. 1819. Arne B. Larson Estate, 1989.

François Chanot (1788-1825) was the eldest son of Joseph Chanot, a violin maker in Mirecourt, the major French center of this trade. Rather than entering the family business, he studied at l'École polytechnique in Paris and became a naval engineer. In 1816, after a distinguished career in the navy, he was dismissed because of his suspected sympathies for Napoleon, now in exile after his defeat at Waterloo. During the following few years, Chanot turned his engineering talents to redesigning the violin and the larger instruments of the family.

Dispensing with the tailpiece, Chanot attached the strings to an ebony plate set in the belly, in the manner of a guitar. Guided by a theory that the wood fibers should be as long as possible, Chanot simplified the shape of the violin's f-holes and adopted the cornerless body design that had often been used by luthiers in the past.


Chanot violin soundholes

Pegbox and Scroll

Front view of Chanot violin pegbox Side view of Chanot violin pegbox Back view of Chanot violin pegbox

Chanot turned the scroll backwards to facilitate fastening the strings to their tuning pegs. Alternatively, the pegboxes of some Chanot instruments have, instead of a scroll, a simpler finial with a shield.

Quartet of Chanot Instruments

Chanot quartet

The Museum's quartet of instruments (viola, 'cello, and two violins) by the Chanot & Lété workshop, Paris, ca. 1819-1820.

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