Bartolomeo Giuseppe, son of Giuseppe Guarneri and Barbara Franchi, was born in 1698, the year of the death of his grandfather Andrea, the first violin maker of the family. As a young man, he certainly assisted in his father’s workshop. He appeared in his family’s census listing for the last time in 1722 when he left home after his marriage with Caterina Rota; years later, his wife probably helped him in the construction of his last violins. Nothing is known about the couple for the following six years; then, in 1728, the maker’s name appeared again in some notary deeds concerning the purchase of a tavern called “Osteria dei Mori” that was sold again one year later. His father’s worsening health condition was, most probably, the reason for his return home in 1730. Not much is known about the illness of the elder Giuseppe except that it did not allow him to carry on making violins autonomously. The last instrument to bear a “Giuseppe filius Andreae” label was a 1731 cello: after that year, the production of the Guarneri workshop was branded only with the name del Gesù thus marking a clear break with the customary practice of using the head of the household’s name on the labels until his death. Del Gesù’s inscriptions also included the IHS trigram, abbreviation of the Greek name of Jesus, from which his nickname derived. The renown of the Cremonese master is mainly associated with 19th century Romanticism and the name of Nicolo Paganini. The famous virtuoso, in fact, played on his faithful del Gesù’s violin known as the Cannone for a long time: the instrument, made in 1742, was endowed by the great violinist to the Town of Genova. Bartolomeo Giuseppe’s choices in terms of style and construction technique distance his work from that of his contemporaries as well as from his father’s teachings.
After changing hands several times, the instrument was owned between 1972 and 1977 by the great soloist Pinchas Zucherman, who played it in several concerts and recordings; it was then purchased by the Centro di Musicologia “Walter Stauffer” of Cremona in 1980.
Joseph Guarnerius fecit IHS / Cremoneę anno 1734
Ernst Kessler, Berlin, April 28, 1924
Emil Hjorth & Sonner, Copenaghen, April 29,1924
W. E. Hill & Sons, London, January 18, 1926
J. & A. Beare, London, April 25, 1980
Purchased by Centro di Musicologia “Walter Stauffer” in 1980