Annibale Fagnola is one of the most esteemed Piedmontese violin makers, known for his exceptional craftsmanship and attention to detail. Born in 1865, near Turin, Fagnola did not begin his life in the luthierie at a young age. Most likely his first contact with this universe came through guitar making and repairing, but the rising strong violin making scenario in Turin soon involved him and his work.
At the time he moved to Turin, around 1894, there were not many established violin making workshops in town. The one most worth mentioning was the one from Romano Marengo Rinaldi, who seems to have been Fagnola's introduction to the violin making world, just a few years after he arrived in the city. The success of Fagnola's instruments is due to the sum of his high level craftsman skills, his opportunity of, somehow, train and count with the help of a well established local artisan and local businessman, and his close relationship with a local collector and violins dealer, which led him access to a number of great fine instruments that inspired him in the Turinese tradition throughout his career.
Soon, in 1899, Fagnola was self-employed, but for the first years he probably did not sign his instruments, as it was more likely that they were sold by other commerciants and dealers. The similarity and clear influences of his peers and predecessors, notable in Fagnola's instruments, shows how connected the violin makers of Turin were as a community. Not necessarily collaborating but enough to have access to each other's works and get influenced by it.
Fagnola's work is remarkable for his attachment to the Turin Tradition. The great part of his instruments are clearly modelled and inspired by Giuseppe Rocca (1807-1865) and Giovanni Francesco Pressenda (1777- 1854) and often by Giovanni Battista Guadagnini (1711-1786). His approach through the major part of his career was of a new looking style, searching for a similarity to the Turin masters, in which he definitely succeeded, for example in the precision of the models copying, and the very characteristic red thick deep coloured varnish.
Along his life and career, Fagnola enhanced his style, crafting skills, and headed to a more precise and neat work. Some experts consider that the increasing demand for his instruments in some moments of his career led him to some practical choices to reduce the time he spent on making that threatened the quality of his work, but not something very noticeable considering his increasing experience over the years. Despite the focus and preference for Turinese models, he often worked on models of the great Cremonese masters, especially for fairs and expositions.
Fagnola's carrer was prolific, he was successful from the artistic, commercial and financial perspectives. From the 1920's on, the demand for his instruments increased, and the business grew, counting with co-workers violin makers, and soon was the reference in the region and abroad, and worked until his death in 1939.Fagnola's violins are often characterized by their bold, rich tones and excellent responsiveness, making them sought after by professional musicians and collectors worldwide.