Louis Guersan was the leading instrument maker in France in the middle of the 18th C., appreciated as much for his exquisite hand as for the tone of his instruments. The pardessus de viole is the smallest member of the Viola da gamba Family, used almost exclusively in France, for which composers of note wrote brilliant works, including De Caix d’Hervelois, Bartolomé d’Hervelois, Dollé, Marc, Blainville, Barriere and many others. Designed principally for the recreation of noble ladies at a time where playing the violin was considered too vulgar for aristocratic hands, the pardessus could be used to perform the fashionable repertoire of the violin, but in a dignified posture held between the legs, in a sitting position suitable for persons of quality. The portraits of a young lad and of Mme Henriette de France, daughter of Louis XV show this posture. The princess reportedly performed with the highest level of accomplishment on both the pardessus and the bass viol.