L'archet du violoncelle baroque

L'archet baroque, sa tenue, sa technique



Archet fait par Hans Reiners, Berlin


vue de l'archet avant ET APRES AVOIR CLIPPé la hausse

UNE HAUSSE QUI SE CLIPPE Les archets avec une hausse vissée sont apparus pendant la deuxième partie du 18éme siècle




We observe two bow holds until the beginning of the 19th century. 
Make you own opinion...



the hand is under the bow


the hand is over the bow.


Violoncellistes importants dans l'évolution du violoncelle, tenue inconnue.



Observation des peintures et documents historiques


Observation de peintures



iel gow and his brother (Donald Gow, cellist), by David Allan, circa 1780

Niel gow and his brother (Donald Gow, cellist), by David Allan, circa 1780


Village musicians, by Adrian Jansz van Ostade, circa 1645

Village musicians, by Adrian Jansz van Ostade, circa 1645


Portrait of a gentleman seated playing cello, by Charles Philips, circa 1720

Portrait of a gentleman seated playing cello, by Charles Philips, circa 1720


Concerto in casa Lazzari by Girolamo Martinelli

Concerto in casa Lazzari by Girolamo Martinelli

vue detaillée

A considérer... 

Dans des pays tels que L'Italie, l'Allemagne, les Pays Bas, la tenue d'archet la plus courante 

pendant l'epoque baroque était avec la main en dessous.
Lecture conseillée:

"Iconographic study of the violoncello and the way it was played up to the year 1800"
"Certain Aspects of baroque music for the violoncello as finally exemplified in the suites for
unaccompanied violoncello by J.S. Bach. (thesis, doctorate, University of South Australia 1983-4)"
by Mark Mervyn SMITH

LIRE: "The cello bow held the viol way, once common, but almost forgotten" by Mark Smith  

Read - Page 47


Description of J.C. Schetky's bow hold
Allgemeine Musikzeitung, 1799, Leipzig




The thumb was laying on the frog of the bow, the second finger was on the stick, and the other 3 fingers were on the bow hair. By the pressure of those fingers, especially the little finger, he increased the tension of his bow .




Ferdinando III, Patron of the arts
His Villa in Patrolino was a center of music where he held operatic production in a theater built for that purpose. Close to D. Scarlatti, he produced five of his operas. Ferdinando was also in contact with J.F. Handel. Vivaldi dedicated him L'Estro Armonico, a collection of twelve concertos for one, two and four violins.

Antonio Vandini

"Antonion Vandini, the famous violoncello, who they say play a parlare upon his instrument" [...]

it is remarkable that Antonio and all the other violoncello players here hold the bow in the old fashioned way with the hand under it"

Charles Burney,

Excerpt from: “Music men, and manners in France and Italy 1770”


His career:

- Colleague of A. Vivaldi  in 1720
- First violoncellist of the Church of St. Antonio in Padua, concertmaster: Tartini (1721)

- 1726-70: Back to his position of principal cello of the Church of St. Antonio in Padua.
- 1776-78: Back to Bologna his birth town where he taught until his death.

Composition for the violoncello:

  • Concerto in D major

  • Six Sonatas

Charles Burney, Excerpt from: “Music men, and manners in France and Italy 1770”


German cellist Markus Graüel was born in Eisenach in the first half of the eighteenth century.

He joined the chamber musicians of the Prussian Court in Berlin from 1742 until 1798.

"M. Grauel, a violoncello performer in the king’s band, played a concerto; it was but ordinary music; however, it was well executed, though in the old manner, with the hand under the bow"
Excerpt from "An eighteenth century musical tour in central Europe and the Netherland."(1773)
Charles Burney


In 1799 the "Allgemeine Musikzeitung" published a long biographical print where his bow hold is described, explaining that his thumb was laying on the frog of the bow, the index finger was alone on the stick, and the other fingers were on the bow hair.

Highlights of his career: Schetky spent six months in Hamburg in 1761 where he got offered a Stradivarius.

  • 1761-68 Cellist of the court orchestra of Darmstadt
  • 1768-69 Played concerts in Hamburg

He also appeared in concerts in London where he got the patronage of J.C. Bach.


 tenue d'archet AVEC la main sur la baguette

peintures, documents historiques


Excerpt from: A cellist in Handel's orchestra - Philip Mercier - c.1740-1- (Cellist: J. Hebden )


Excerpt from Musique de chambre, by Carmontelle - c.1765-70

( Cellist: J.P. Duport) 


Portrait of Giovanni Battista Cirri by Giacomo Ceruti

Michel Corette - 1741

Methode théorique et pratique pour apprendre en peu de temps de violoncelle dans sa perfection. - 1741


PREMIER VIOLONCELLISTE virtuoso reconnu a travers L'europe


"Franciscello", a travelling virtuoso.  Born in 1691 in Napoli, Italy.
His playing and sound had an important impact in the development and the popularity of the violoncello. After a performance with Scarlatti, Geminiani related that only an angel that had descended and assumed his shape could have played like that. 
While in Vienna...
he received by far the highest salary paid to any violoncellist at the chapel (1260 fl. while the standard salary was between 150 and 500 fl.)


«The incomparable violoncellist Fransciscello."

J. Quantz

Employed at the Imperial chapel of Vienna from 1726 until his death. His fame also inspired viola da gamba players to explore the new instrument. The French gamba player Martin Berteau was one of them. After hearing a concert of Alborea, he decided to dedicate the rest of his career to the violoncello.


observation de la tenue d'archet de Boccherini

Even if this is post baroque (1764), the hand is still placed at the balance point of the bow

"Luigi Boccherini playing the violoncello"
Date: circa 1764-1767


famous cellists - unknown bowhold


1670, Modena - 1747, Vienna
Also refered as BUONONCINI
Renowned composer and cellist, Bononcini traveled throughout Europe from his beginnings in Bologna, then to Rome (1691) and Vienna (1698 and 1736 until his death).  By 1706, Bononcini was already famous all over Europe. 
His career includes stays in Madrid, Berlin (1702-03)*London (1720), Paris (1730).

More about Bononcini: clic here 


Berteau was born in 1691 in Valenciennes, France.
overhand? underhand?...

This is the only portrait of Berteau, there is no more information about his bow and bow-hold.

Before becoming a cellist, Berteau was a fine bass viol player. Important figure as a performer teacher and composer, "The famous Bertaud", is considered as the founder of the French school of violoncello. He left no written record of his teaching method, but many of his pupils did. Among them: the Brothers Janson, Jean-Pierre Duport, Jean-Baptiste Bréval, François Cupis de Renoussard, Joseph Tillière, Dominique Bideau. Famous for his use of harmonics, he composed 6 cello sonatas Sonate Da camera a violoncello Solo col Basso Continuo op.l where he wrote an explanation on how to play harmonics on the cello.

Berteau's life (in French)

This is the only portrait of Berteau, there is no information about his bow-hold.

A propos du choix de la tenue d'archet

We know that both bow-holds were used for cello/bass playing, it was not the case for other bowed instruments.

la main dessus

Seuls les instruments ou la table est dirigée vers le musicien utilisent une tenue avec la main sur l'archet à l'exception de violoncellistes qui l'utilisent également. 

la main dessous

Tous les instruments dont la table est dirigée vers le sol utilisent une tenue d'archet avec la main en dessous, y compris les violoncellistes.

la tenue d'archet est en rapport avec la maniere dont l'instrument est orienté. 

la paume de la main est tournée vers ou l'impulsion doit etre donnée. 


technique d'archet

tirer, pousser,

vers le haut ou vers le bas? 

lire la suite

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