Joseph Gerard (c. 1806–1844) was a favorite maker of the acclaimed British guitar virtuoso, composer, and tutor Catharina Josepha Pelzer, later known through marriage as Madame Sidney Pratten.
Gerard likely arrived in London after 1830 to build guitars in the R. & W. Davis workshop (please see the R.&.W Davis guitar attributed to Gerard in this collection), as one extant guitar labeled by Davis is signed under the soundboard “Joseph Gerard/á Londres/1831.” Although Gerard claimed he was from Paris, he was likely born and initially trained in Mirecourt in northeastern France. (It was fashionable at the time for French émigrés to embellish their resumes by claiming they worked in the capital.)
The provenance of the c. 1831 guitar attributed to Gerard in the Austin-Marie Collection is particularly unique. It came from the estate of Madame Pratten’s younger sister, British guitarist and mandolinist Giulia Pelzer (1838-1938). Their father was the renowned nineteenth century guitar instructor, publicist, and promoter Ferdinand Pelzer.