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The Guarneri Family of Musical Instrument Makers
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( Click here for more on the Guarneri family from the 1931 Hill book together with lists of representative examples )
( For the list of instruments by Joseph Guarneri del Gesu exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum in 1994 - Click here )

Five members of the Guarneri family made violins across three generations in Cremona in North Italy. The first instrument maker of the family was Andrea Guarneri, (b. 1626; d. 1698), who had been apprenticed to Nicolo Amati (b. 1595; d.1684). Some years later the Amati workshop engaged the young Antonio Stradvari (b. circa 1644; d. 1737) , about whom much has already been written elsewhere.

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Andrea had two sons that took up the art of violin making, the eldest Pietro Guarneri (b. 1656; d. circa 1740) worked as a musician in the Court of the Gonzaga family , who ruled Mantua until 1708. As an instrument maker, Pietro founded a highly respected school of violin making in Mantua. The second son of Andrea, Giuseppe (Joseph filius Andrea) (b. 1666; d. circa 1740) made instruments in Cremona and was the father of two further instrument makers: another Pietro (b. 1695; d. 1762), who moved to Venice in about 1720 and Bartolomeo Giuseppe (b. 1698; d. 1744).

Bartolomeo Giuseppe, known as Joseph Guarneri del Gesu, has become far and away the best known member of the family. It could be argued that were it not for Joseph Guarneri del Gesu, the other members of the Guarneri family would have remained with a lesser reputation than they currently hold. Certainly the works of del Gesu command equal if not greater sums in the market place than those of Stradivari and have done so since the early 19th century. In 1994, on the 250th anniversary of the death of Bartolomeo Giuseppe, an exhibition of 25 of his most famous works was staged at the Metropolitan Museum in New York .

It is possible that the Guarneri family could have remained in relative obscurity were it not for a gift to the great virtuoso violinist Nicolo Paganini (b. Genoa, 1782; d. 1840) of a violin by Joseph Guarneri del Gesu. Paganini jealously guarded the instrument and on his death he presented it to the city of Genoa, where it can be seen by the public by arrangement and heard being played by the winner of the ‘Paganini’ contest for young violinists held in Genoa annually. The instrument in question is known as the “Cannon” and was made by Joseph Guarneri del Gesu in 1742. (If you are curious: the scroll shown on the opening page of this site is that of the "Cannon" mentioned here)

Another Guarneri del Gesu violin was recently sold for many millions on the London market, which endorses his work as highly prized investments as well as exceptional musical instruments.

( The above statements are made in accordance with our Terms and Conditions )

For more information on the Guarneri family of Musical Instrument makers the following books may be of interest:
- The Violin Makers of the Guarneri Family, (Alfred, Arthur & W. Henry Hill)
- I Centenari dei Guarneri 1698 - 1998, Consorzio Liutai & Archettai "A. Stradivari" Cremona
- The Violin Masterpieces of Guarneri del Gesu, Metropolitan Museum exhibition catalogue, New York, 1994 (Peter Biddulph & Stewart Pollens)
- Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesu, (Carlo Chiesa, John Dilworth, Roger Hargrave, Peter Klein, Stewart Pollens, Duane Rosengard, Eric Wen. Photographs: Stewart Pollens. Published by Peter Biddulph, London, 1998).

An interesting article on Caterina Guarneri (" Seeking Mrs. Guarneri") by Roger Hargrave appears on the September 2000 issue of The Strad magazine (p.957) Site authorship is operated by Doricdesign Ltd., and is supervised, managed and run by Adam Watson, who worked for the Musical Instrument Department at Sotheby's in London from 1979 to 1999. If you want more information please use the E-mail 'Contact Us' link below. If you want to speak to Adam Watson on the 'phone please apply for the 'phone number by using the E-mail 'Contact Us' link below or by using the "mailto" links in this paragraph.
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