Born on June 23 1711 in Bilegno, a small village in the Piacenza countryside, Giovanni Battista Guadagnini can be considered the most important successor of Antonio Stradivari and Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesł and the greatest Italian violin makers of the second half of 18th Century. After settling in Piacenza at the age of 27, Guadagnini started his career as a luthier, most likely as a talented self-taught maker; he nevertheless was before apprenticing as a carpenter and had many contacts with the musical environment of the town.
In subsequent years Guadagnini was active in Milano (1749-1758) and in Parma (1759-71), where he was appointed and received a pension as the court luthier from the refined and powerful Prime Minister of duke don Filippo of Borbone, Guillaume Du Tillot. Having enjoyed this privileged position for 13 long years, Guadagnini represents in this a unique case in the history of Italian violin making.
Forced to leave the Emilian city for the difficult economic situation of the small Bourbon duchy, the violin maker spent the last period of his life in Torino, where he entered in contact with noble Piedmont collector count Cozio of Salabue. Before his death in 1786, Guadagnini left an indelible mark on the future of his art, despite his humble origin and the difficult conditions that often characterized his existence.