In Focus: A late 1770s cello by Antonio Gragnani


Written by Paolo Sorgentone

Not much information has yet come to light on the life of Antonio Gragnani. He was born on 13 February 1728 in Livorno, on the coast of Tuscany, into a family of musicians active in the city. His father was an instrument maker himself, but the quality of Antonio’s craftsmanship suggests the influence of different schools as well as family training.

In Gragnani’s lifetime, Livorno was an important hub for commercial and cultural traffic, thanks to its geographical position and its status as a ‘free port’. This can at least partially explain the various influences found in Gragnani’s work. As with many other Tuscan makers of the time, we can clearly see the influence of Jacob Stainer and Nicolò Amati in his instruments, in both the model and the arching. Gragnani’s work was also partly influenced by the Flemish school…

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