Giovanni Tononi

around 1640 to 1713

Bologna looks back on an instrument making tradition that began in the 16th century. The first of the artisans who made their home there and ran successful shops were lute makers who had migrated from Allgäu in southern Germany. Records show that members of the Tononi family lived in Bologna from the 17th century. Giovanni Tononi’s father was a case maker in Bologna, and possibly Giovanni also learned this trade originally. Hardly any authenticated information about Tononi’s career is available, but it is known that his instruments enjoyed a solid reputation from the 1690s and commanded high prices. In 1697, Tononi came by a workshop near Piazza Maggiore, Bologna’s cultural center. Tononi’s sons Felice (around 1670 to after 1735) and Carlo Annibale (1675–1730) became luthiers as well. The latter took over the workshop after his father’s death, but shortly thereafter settled in Venice.

Tononi’s instruments were based on Nicolò Amati’s models. He used an attractive, orange-red varnish. Chronological classification is difficult for many of Tononi’s instruments, as the original labels were frequently modified or removed.