Maison Bernard was founded by Nicolas Bernard and
his brother Victor in Liège in 1868, and initially specialised
in the manufacture and selling of pianos. The Bernards worked in
Liège, Paris and Brussels.
André Bernard (1869-1959) succeeded his father Nicolas and
turned to violin- and bow-making. He trained at Gand et Bernardel
from 1886 to 1889, at the same time as Eugène Sartory, who
both taught him bow-making and became his friend.
Back in Liège, André Bernard began to manufacture
violins, violas, cellos and even double basses.
André's sons Joseph (1911-1940) and Jacques Bernard (1919-1992)
were trained by their father and began to take over the workshop
in 1930. After Joseph's premature death in the early days of the
war, Jacques found himself in sole charge of the workshop. He was
also interested in the violin's ancestors and made mediaeval fiddles
and rebecs. He was appointed official violin-maker of the Liège
International String Quartet and Violin-making Competition and restored
the instruments in the collection of the Brussels Museum of Musical
Instruments. A founding member of the Groupement des Luthiers et
Archetiers d'Art de France, he was also the curator of the Mirecourt
National Museum of french violin making.
was less interested in signatures than in the quality and make of
instruments. This led him to considerably enlarge his knowledge
of woods, shapes and manufacturing methods.
( 1940- ), a bow-maker and the adopted son of Jacques Bernard, trained
with André Morizot of Mirecourt before working for Maison
Bernard in Liège and Brussels. Now retired, he has nevertheless
remained in close contact with Jan Strick and Pierre Guillaume and
provides moral support.
Jacques Bernard took Jan
Strick under his wing in 1976, and Pierre
Guillaume in 1980. He supplied them with training and guidance,
and in 1986 transferred the firm and its traditions to them. It
was on his advice that
Maison Bernard moved to Brussels.