GUARNIERI, or Guarnerius, a celebrated family of violin-makers of Cremona. The first was Andreas (c. 1626–1698), who worked with Antonio Stradivari in the workshop of Nicolo Amati (son of Geronimo). Violins of a model original to him are dated from the sign of “St Theresa” in Cremona. His son Joseph (1666–c. 1739) made instruments at first like his father’s, but later in a style of his own with a narrow waist; his son, Peter of Venice (b. 1695), was also a fine maker. Another son of Andreas, Peter (Pietro Giovanni), commonly known as “Peter of Cremona” (b. 1655), moved from Cremona and settled at Mantua, where he too worked “sub signo Sanctae Teresae.” Peter’s violins again showed considerable variations from those of the other Guarnieri. Hart, in his work on the violin, says, “There is increased breadth between the sound-holes; the sound-hole is rounder and more perpendicular; the middle bouts are more contracted, and the model is more raised.”
The greatest of all the Guarnieri, however, was a nephew of Andreas, Joseph del Gesù (1687–1745), whose title originates in the I.H.S. inscribed on his tickets. His master was Gaspar di Salo. His conception follows that of the early Brescian makers in the boldness of outline and the massive construction which aim at the production of tone rather than visual perfection of form. The great variety of his work in size, model, &c., represents his various experiments in the direction of discovering this tone. A stain or sap-mark, parallel with the finger-board on both sides, appears on the bellies of most of his instruments. Since the middle of the 18th century a great many spurious instruments ascribed to this master have poured over Europe. It was not until Paganini played on a “Joseph” that the taste of amateurs turned from the sweetness of the Amati and the Stradivarius violins in favour of the robuster tone of the Joseph Guarnerius. See Violin.