Violin by Giovanni Paolo Maggini, Brescia, circa 1600

 Violin by Giovanni Paolo Maggini, Brescia, circa 1600

About Giovanni Paolo Maggini

Giovanni Paolo Maggini is the most famous of the Brescian makers. He was born in Botticino in 1580 and moved to nearby Brescia in order to learn his craft with Gasparo da Salò. Maggini spent twenty years in the employ of da Salò, producing instruments in the style of the earlier Brescian master.

Once set up on his own, Maggini worked on two violin models, one smaller and one larger. This was a time of great experimentation in the model of the violin: Maggini appears to have valued the larger model for its power and darkness. This model influenced a great many later makers, most notably Rogeri and Vuillaume.

It’s tempting to think of the Brescian school as a fascinating ‘dead end’ in the evolution of the violin, however it must be pointed out that del Gesù violins are essentially a combination of a Cremonese outline with a Brescian concept of arching. Looked at through this lens, the impact of the early Brescian makers cannot be underestimated on the development of the instrument.

About the violin

Maggini famously left his labels undated, meaning that it is not possible to give a definite date for the instrument. Analysis of this violin against his body of work suggests that it was made circa 1600. This is one of his large pattern instruments, slightly reduced to what we now consider to be a standard size.

The violin has a one piece back of slab-cut maple. The ribs are made from quarter-sawn maple and the scroll is plainer. The front is two pieces of medium-grained spruce, narrowing towards the flanks. The varnish is golden-brown in colour, laid over a lighter golden ground. The violin has a length of back of 359 mm.

How does it sound?

This violin has an unusual, enticing voice. It is effortlessly responsive, will play at the quietest dynamics and yet feels as though it has built-in amplification as you explore the louder end of its range. It has a unique timbre which on the darker end of the spectrum: it is almost shocking to experience that darkness with the enormous projection that the violin possesses.


The violin is in very good condition and a full condition report accompanies its sale. As mentioned above, it has been slightly reduced in size at some point in its long life.


The violin comes with the 2023 certificate of Peter Biddulph.

Further information

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