Masterpieces of Northern Italy
Luthiers in northern Italian cities such as Venice, Padua, Bologna, Milan, Brescia, and Cremona gained fame in the sixteenth century for their high-quality, beautifully constructed instruments. For more than two hundred years, Italian luthiers dominated the production of stringed instruments in Europe, as both musicians and wealthy patrons sought their products. Although these makers built a wide variety of products, individual craftsmen and cities often became known for specific instruments, such as the lute makers of Venice and Padua and the violin makers of Cremona and Brescia. By the second half of the eighteenth century, however, the great northern Italian workshops that had been so dominant in the production of stringed instruments were declining. Traditionally, the deaths of Antonio Stradivari in 1737 and of his contemporary Giuseppe Guarneri “del Gesù” in 1744 are perceived as the end of the golden age of Italian production, but the creation of stringed instruments never truly ceased in northern Italy, continuing to this day.