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Pierre Hel violin, Lille 1909
Catalog ID: A-VN/4246

Pierre Jean Henri Hel (c. 1884–1932) studied with his father, renowned luthier Pierre Joseph Hel (1842–1902), whose workshop in Lille was one of the leading violin shops in France at that time. Pierre later apprenticed in Mirecourt, before returning to Lille to take over his father's business after the elder Hel's death in 1902. Like his father, Pierre won numerous awards at World's Fair exhibitions, including first prize in Paris in 1900, St. Louis in 1904, and Milan in 1906. As violin maker to the Conservatoire de Lille and the Royal Conservatory of The Hague, Pierre Hel designed a successful line of instruments called "Stradivarius Moderne." Their high demand among young soloists required Hel to outsource their production in 1919 to the Mirecourt atelier of Léon Victor Mougenot, one of the most influential luthiers in France. Hel's reputation grew as the popularity of his instruments caught the attention of numerous celebrated soloists of the day, including Romanian violinist Georges Enescu, who performed on a violin made by Pierre Hel on his United States tour in 1923. Hel's workshop expanded to include historic stringed instruments and high quality bows made by celebrated makers, including Eugène Cuniot-Hury, Louis Morizot, and Marie-Louis Piernot. After Hel's death in 1932, the business continued under the management of his widow and his assistant, violin maker Marcel Demey until 1943. Pierre Hel's violins have been owned by some of history's greatest players, including Eugène Ysaye, Henryk Szeryng, William Primrose, and Stéphane Grappelli.

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