Pierre and Hippolyte Silvestre violin, Lyon 1839
Pierre and Hippolyte Silvestre were French luthiers and brothers whose partnership yielded some of the finest craftsmanship in 19th-century France.
Pierre Silvestre (1801–1859) started working in Mirecourt before he moved to Paris to train under Nicolas Lupot and Charles Adolphe Gand. By the 1820s, he was joined in the city by his younger brother, Hippolyte Silvestre (1808–1879), who worked at the famed workshop of Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume. The two eventually relocated to Lyon to set up their own workshop, Silvestre Frères, which became highly successful. Pierre also became an accomplished dealer.
Pierre’s style was marked by supreme elegance, usually modeled after Stradivari and Guarneri. Hippolyte’s was mostly based on the Cremonese style, often using dark red varnish with some antiquing. The brothers successfully collaborated before Hippolyte left to work in Sommerviller where he retired in 1848. Pierre continued to work at their Silvestre Frères atelier until his death in 1859. Hippolyte returned to Lyon to take over their business and worked until 1965 with their nephew, Hippolyte Chrétien Silvestre, who subsequently inherited the workshop.