March 2, 2004 by

Jacques Francais


Categories: Business, Musicians

With his trained eye, Jacques Pierre Francais could look at a Stradivarius and determine if it was a fake or worth millions.
A world renown dealer of classical string instruments, Francais spent 20 years collecting two violins, a viola and a cello that Antonio Stradivari had made to be played together but were sold separately. In 1971, he assembled an exhibition of antique French violins that had not been seen in public since a 1900 exposition in France. He also brokered a $4 million sale of an instrument built by Stradivari and played by cellist Emanuel Feuermann.
The French-born Francais belonged to a 200-year line of luthiers. Francais wanted to be an artist, but his father, Émile, demanded that he remain in the family business. So he apprenticed in Mirecourt and Mittenwald, the French and German centers of violin-making. During World War II, Francais served with the Free French ski troops before joining the occupation force in Vienna. Once the fighting ended, he apprenticed with violin restorer Rembert Wurlitzer and with his father.
Francais moved to New York in 1948, bearing 20 violins, four cellos and 24 bows, which he planned to sell on consignment. He later built his own company — Jacques Francais Rare Violins Inc. — where he bought, sold and maintained stringed instruments by Stradivari, Nicolo Amati and Guarneri del Gesù.
Francais died on Feb. 4 from complications of Parkinson’s disease. He was 80.

6 Responses to Jacques Francais

  1. Geraldine Rasmussen

    Francais was a great man and had to make the decision to leave his father’s shop in France and start his own. By coming to the USA he brought not only his talent and knowledge, but enhanced our nation with his work.

  2. Eileen Blum Bourgade

    I was so sorry to hear of M Francais’ passing. He was a great man and I will always remember him from my days in New York City.
    He gave me wonderful advise on a bow that remains my favorite today…
    We will miss him!!

  3. Robert McLoud

    My memories of Jacque are some of the finest moments of my life. I thank him, his family and friends for sharing part of their life with me.
    You will truely never be forgotten.

  4. Gary Simkins

    I had the unprecedented pleasure of meeting Mr. Francais in New Jersey. He was so unassuming, and yet so profoundly aware. He left a mark on me that I shall never forget. The world has lost a very great man, and a true gentleman.

  5. Ann Cartwright Denning

    I was a very fortunate person to have grown up as a neighbor of Jacques Francais and have been a childhood friend of his eldest daughter, Liliane. He was a wonderful man and will always be a part of my fondest memories.

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