c. 1892 Jérôme Thibouville-Lamy

Mirecourt, France

Jérôme Thibouville-Lamy & Co. was Mirecourt’s largest manufacturer of musical instruments during the nineteenth century. The 1892 J.T.L. guitar in the Austin-Marie Collection is an example of the firm’s most ornate and expensive model. Although the guitar carries no maker’s label, the dealer’s label from Biarritz, France is visible through the sound hole.

Date 1892
Location Mirecourt, France
Length of Guitar 875mm
String Length 581mm
Upper Bout Width 228mm
Waist Width 160mm
Lower Bout Width 280mm
Side Depth at Waist 78mm
Soundboard: Spruce | Back: Brazilian rosewood | Sides: Brazilian rosewood | Details: The initials “NINI” and the date “1892” are masterfully inlaid on the soundboard in black mother of pearl.


The entire neck and head of the 1892 J.T.L. guitar are inlaid with mother of pearl depicting scenes of musical instruments and floral arrangements. The profuse soundboard inlays are of abalone and mother of pearl flowers connected by stems and vines of ebony. The back and sides are made of rosewood with ivory bindings front and back. Similar in size to the 1890 J.T.L. in this collection, the 1892 is smaller and more ornate than the plain-looking modern-sized instruments being built in Spain at this time.

Curiously, the name “NINI” and the date “1892” are skillfully inlaid with black mother of pearl on the soundboard.  It may be fanciful speculation, but one might wonder if NINI refers to Renoir’s famous muse, Nini Lopez (1857–1944), the French actress known by her stage name, Henriette Henriot. Renoir’s talent as a portrait artist earned him prestigious commissions with the wealthy bourgeoisie. He painted many models with guitars, often with mother of pearl fingerboards, but Nini Lopez must have been a favorite as she appears in at least 12 of his paintings. Perhaps this guitar was a special gift from the artist to her? It is left to the imagination to decide.