Fine Musical Instruments Online
French Mahogany Double Violin Case, Possibly the Workshop of Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume, the brass-inlaid domed lid engraved Camilla Urso, the handle in the form of two bears eating two snakes eating a pomegranate, the blue velvet interior, the underside of the removable pads inscribed Madame Paul Bailly Luthier/a Bruxelles, and Paul Bailly Luthier/Bruxelles/le 19 février/1893, the case floor inscribed Victor S. Flechter, approximate length of back 360 mm, ht. 5, wd. 33, dp. 11 3/4 in.
Provenance: The collection of Dr. Glenn P. Wood; Camilla Urso.
N.B. "I was forced to research the extraordinary history of this remarkable woman when I acquired her violin case.
Her violin is well documented. Joseph Silverstein, for most of his career, played the 1742 'ex-Camilla Urso' Guarnerius del Gesù, but she seems to have passed into oblivion.
Camilla Urso (1840-1902) was a child prodigy and American violinist born in France. She preceded Maud Powell by at least 20 years, and although born in France and trained in the Paris Conservatoire, considered herself to be American.
As a child in France, the family was very poor because her father couldn't get work as an orchestral flautist in Paris and her mother had to do long hours of embroidery to support the family through Camilla's three years at the conservatory. She beat out 70 boys to gain a scholarship. She had to quit temporarily after two years in order to earn money concertising and playing in the salons of the high and mighty. I suspect that during these six months (in c. 1855) she was given or purchased a nice violin and case. That would correspond with my guess as to the age of the case.
There is a reference to it on page 82 of her biography - 'Presently the symphony rehearsal came to an end and without the slightest hint of affectation she rose from her seat smiled and went to the stage. Selecting a violin from its blue satin wrappings she threw a white silk handkerchiefs over her left shoulder tuned her violin and took her place at the front of the stage in the centre of the orchestra.' This was in Boston in 1874.
The case accompanied her back and forth between Europe and America, and between New York City and San Francisco (where she received a rapturous welcome),and got quite damaged in the process. In the end she became quite wealthy, so I imagine she had the case refurbished at the Bailly shop in Belgium where it was expertly restored by Paul Bailly and relined by his wife, as both of their signatures indicate. Camilla kept it until the end as a souvenir of her travels.
Later, she took grand tours across the globe from South Africa to Australia, and spent her last struggling years in New York vaudeville."
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