One of the greatest French luthiers of the 20th century, Jean Bauer was born in Laval, France in 1914. He was the son of violin maker Gaston Bauer, with whom he studied before moving to Mattaincourt to train with Marius Didier. Bauer began his own business in Le Havre in 1936, but was forced to flee to Angers in 1941 during World War II.
Bauer's instruments won numerous awards in international competitions, including prizes at World's Fair expositions held between 1929 and 1949, First Prize for a Quartet at the competition of Liège, Belgium in 1954, and the Grand Prix National des Métiers d'Art in 1984. He served a juror and chairman of several international violin making competitions, and assisted in establishing l'École Nationale de Lutherie de Mirecourt in 1970 with his colleague, luthier Étienne Vatelot. Before his death in 2005, Bauer was credited with building over 620 instruments, including violins, violas, cellos, several quartets, and one quintet. Virtuoso violinist Henryk Szeryng played a violin by Jean Bauer, in addition to his "Le Duc" Guarneri del Gesù.
Bauer Lutherie & Archèterie d'Art continues in Angers today, headed by Bauer's son, Jacques Bauer.