About the maker
Pietro Giovanni Guarneri, better known as Peter of Mantua, was an accomplished luthier and violinist in the 17th Century.
Pietro Guarneri of Mantua, better known as Peter of Mantua, was born on the 18th February 1655 to master luthier Andrea Guarneri and Anna Maria di Orcelli. The eldest of the revered Guarneri children, Pietro began to work in his father’s workshop in his early teenage years, perfecting his father’s style and honing his skills. He created many of his own works during those years, which showed exceptional ability and craftmanship, but, unlike his brothers, he didn’t use his own label and opted to use his father’s.
While he did inherit the basics from his father, Mantua’s individual aesthetic quickly developed; distinctive f-holes, precise corners and purfling, and fuller arching. Compared to Andrea Guarneri, Pietro’s skilled hand and superior eye for form created finer work whilst still maintaining the family trademarks.
Pietro was also particular about his choice of wood, opting to use only the finest maple. The natural qualities of this maple, combined with an exquisite varnish, created instruments ranging from deep reds to shining goldens. Overall, Pietro’s works were of standard length, with meticulous edgework, exaggerated bouts, and delicate corners. Whilst his f-holes used an Amati template, the top and bottom holes were larger than the norm.
Unique among many of the great Italian violin makers in the classical period, Pietro was an acclaimed violinist and violist and pursued his musicality professionally alongside his craftmanship. In his mid-twenties, Pietro moved to Mantua where he became one of the city’s earliest known violin makers and played at court for many of the nobility. This dual mastery can explain why so few of his instruments exist today; no violas remain and only around fifty violins still exist.