A Master Copyist
Gaetano Sgarabotto was renowned for making replicas of old Italian instruments – and left numerous records of his research on their makers’ styles. Focusing on his replica scrolls, Andrea Zanrè examines the secrets of Sgarabotto’s success
Gaetano Sgarabotto (1878–1959) and his son Pietro (1903–90) are known by most violin enthusiasts as makers of refined instruments, and Gaetano in particular is also famed for his expertise at making copies, as a counterfeiter of classical Italian instruments which have been able to deceive expert observers even in recent decades. Less known is their remarkable contribution as scholars and educators, and as 2019 marks the 90th anniversary of their founding of the Parma violin making school within the city’s conservatoire, it seems an opportune moment to explore further their contribution to the history of lutherie.
Gaetano moved from his native Vicenza to Milan in 1897, initially drawn there for the purposes of continuing his cello studies. Having also been trained as a craftsman in the field of decorative arts, he soon became fascinated by instrument making, and after a few years he started a collaboration with the renowned atelier of Leandro Bisiach. In 1911 he moved back to Vicenza and eventually settled in Parma in 1926.