In an article from Christie’s, bow experts Paul Childs and Isaac Salchow discuss a Francois Tourte bow that was auctioned at Christie’s in New York last April. The Tourte bow had gold and tortoiseshell mountings and was made in Paris circa 1820-25. The estimated price for the bow was set at…yes, get ready…$150,000-$200,000.
Kerry Keane from Chistie’s talks to Childs and Salchow about their backgrounds and how they became interested in bows. Both of their interests in the subjects began when they came to New York in their younger years. Childs highlights the importance of the bow when playing music, and says how the same violin can sound completely different if you play it with four or five different bows. “I know some very fine players who consider bows to be even more important than the instrument itself,” says Childs in the article.
Childs eventually goes into the much sought after uniqueness and magnificence of Tourte bows and other early makers. Salchow also states how it’s also the scarcity that has a huge role in the attractiveness of getting some of these earlier bows. “Tourte invented the modern bow,” says Salchow, so he really was a significant turning point in the approach of bow making.
By the end of the article they turn their attention to the specific Tourte bow being auctioned. Keane says, “what strikes me is that the wood on the stick appears so ‘alive.’ You can see how the grain is iridescent and reflects so much light.” This comment made me think back to my interview with Feller, who talked to me about this three-dimensionality of pernambuco wood and the beauty that comes with it when it refracts the light.
Salchow finishes the article by saying, “As an expert, I appreciate this bow as a great Tourte; as a bow maker, it’s absolutely beautiful.”