The Gagliano family were renowned for their craft, dominating violinmaking in Naples until the early 1850s.
As the eldest son of Alessandro Gagliano, Niccolò was the most famous member of the family. Although more prolific than his brother Gennaro, both brothers were considered amongst the finest makers of the Neapolitan tradition.
Often portrayed as the pinnacle of Neapolitan violinmaking, Niccolò crafted an array of fine instruments throughout his life.
One of the most talented makers in a family lineage spanning two centuries, Niccolò’s instruments remain one of the most highly sought-after collections of the Gagliano family.
The pinnacle of Neapolitan tradition
Niccolò’s work was distinctive, standing out amongst the crowd with its consistently high standards of craftsmanship and sound quality.
Recognisable by their bold characteristics, Niccolò’s instruments were pronounced with well-proportioned arching, unusual scrolls with an elongated pegbox and a small, tight spiral. He often put a small label within his instruments, with a religious dedication.
Niccolò and his brother, Gennaro, developed a slightly green-yellow varnish, using beech wood for the lining and paper fiber for the black outer strips of the purfling. These pioneering elements would soon become the hallmark of the Neapolitan school.
A lot of Niccolò’s instruments were often mistaken for work by Stradivari. His work was brilliantly unique and unconventional, but portrayed strong Stradivari influences with distinguishable Gagliano qualities.
It is evident from Gagliano’s work that his personal style was heavily impacted by his understanding of Cremonese models. Niccolò mirrored this style within his work, whilst retaining the features that made it his own.
His dedication to the Cremonese school was so superb that some of his finest work was often regarded as authentic Stradivari’s and Amati’s.