Violins Giovanni Paolo Maggini

Giovanni Paolo Maggini (1580-c. 1630), born at Botticino (near Brescia, Italy), apprenticed with the master violin maker Gasparo da Salo. His early products show a strong Gasparo influence but are marked by rather crude workmanship. While acquiring a thorough knowledge of the various woods available to him, Maggini evolved his own style, and later, as a master, his own techniques of craftsmanship. He experimented frequently to improve the tone quality of his instruments and to perfect his construction methods; many of these improvements are still in use today. Maggini and Gasparo are considered the most important instrument makers of the Brescian school.

The instruments made by Maggini at the end of his career were his finest. They are known for the quality of the woods and unusually large sound holes (which are well curved and carefully finished), as well as for their exceptionally mellow tone. Many are ornamented on the back with such decorations as the St. Andrew's Cross, a clover-leaf device, tableaux, medallions, crests, or other motifs. Varnishes varied from a clear brown in his early efforts to a more brilliant transparent golden or reddish-brown color of rich quality in later instruments. The typical late-model Maggini has a double row of purfling and low sides.

Maggini is known to have made at least sixty violins, nine violas, two violoncellos, one double bass, and a few viols. His label appeared in the following forms:

Gio. Paolo Maggini in Brescia

Paolo Maggini in Brescia

Giovanni Paulo Megri
a Brescia, 1615

Prepared by the Division of Music, Sports and Entertainment
in cooperation with Public Inquiry Services, Smithsonian Institution
PIMS/MUS26/rev 9-97