With the coming of the Baroque period came commissions to produce this new dramatic art and music. Andrea Amati was the benefactor of one of these commissions by the French King Charles IX. (The king's mother was Italian.) Of the 38 stringed instruments commissioned 16 survive and some of them are of questioned authenticity.
Andrea Amati (1505 - 1577) His model and construction techniques set the new standard for how violins were to be made. He is the inventor of the modern violin.
The Amati line goes through 4 generations of violin makers. His son Antonio joined him in the shop from 1555 until his death. His youngest son Girolamo joined them them in 1575.
Antonio and Girolamo Amati
Antonio Amati (1550 - 1608?) From 1555 Antonio worked for 20 years building violins with his father . His father's name was on the violin but undoubtedly Antonio did more and more of the work through the 1560's and 70's. In 1575 his brother Girolamo Amati (1561-1630) started to learn the business. They made some improvisations including perfecting the shape of the f-holes. Their label read Antonius & Hieronymus Amati and are historically know as "the Amati Brothers" violins .
In 1588 the brothers had an historic falling out. Antonios left and Girolamo continued the family business and passed it on to his son.
Nicolò Amati (1596 – 1684) Nicolo probably entered the shop around 1610 at the tender age of 14. He was probably doing the bulk of the work by the 1620's but the label on the violins from that period still reads the Brothers Amati.
The amazing piece of history in this story is that famine and the plague went through Cremona in the 1630's. In this city of violin makers, Nicolo was the only violin maker who survived. The historic twist is that not only was he the only one to survive but he is considered to be the best craftsman of all the violin makers in this family. The shop not only flourished for its violin production but it also produced some of the most promising violin apprentices of all time including a young Antonio Stradivari.
Girolamo Amati (1649 – 1740). This was Nicolo's son and marks the last generation of the The Amati family of violin makers. His work was not a match for his father's products and was inferior compared to that of the greatest maker of his day, Antonio Stradivari. He did make some innovations and was undoubtedly a very good luthier. History put him in a hard place to be a star. Between his father and Antonio Stradivari you had to be one of the greatest of all time.