Nicolas François Vuillaume cello, Brussels 1865
Nicolas François Vuillaume (1802-1876) was born into the third generation of the illustrious Vuillaume family of luthiers based in Mirecourt, France. He learned his craft with his father, Claude-François Vuillaume (1772-1832), alongside his brothers, Jean Baptiste Vuillaume (1798-1875)-who would open one of the most important violin workshops in Europe in the 19th century-and Nicolas Vuillaume (1800-1874)-who was primarily based in Mirecourt. Nicolas François worked in Jean Baptiste's Parisian workshop until around 1830 when he moved to Brussels, Belgium to establish his own business. Working prolifically, he continued to produce instruments for his brother's shop for many years while also building instruments labeled with his own name, many of which won medals in world expositions including London, Brussels, Paris, Dublin, and Vienna.
In 1836, Nicolas François was appointed instrument maker to the Royal Conservatory of Music in Brussels and in 1873 was made a Chevalier de l'Ordre de Léopold, a Belgian honorary order of knighthood. Nicolas François employed many of the finest luthiers in Europe, and like Jean Baptiste, he was a successful instrument dealer, buying and selling notable Cremonese instruments including important instruments by Antonio Stradivari and Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesú. Nicolas François Vuillaume is considered one of the most important makers of the 19th-century French school, and his instruments are very highly sought after.