Giovanni Battista Ceruti was born just outside Cremona in the hamlet of Sesto, just ten months after the birth of Mozart in Salzburg, some two hundred miles away. Traditionally Ceruti is believed to have been a pupil of Lorenzo Storioni, but recently this notion has been challenged. He and his family moved to Cremona in 1786, but Ceruti did not take up violin making until about a decade later. It is likely that he had had contact with the Bergonzi brothers, Nicola and Carlo II, through the cloth trade, and they were probably the inspiration for his change of profession.
When Storioni left Cremona in 1802, Ceruti took advantage of his absence, and the first decade of the 19th century was his most productive period. Whether he actually took over Storioni’s workshop is unclear, although this featured violin circa 1805, which has a scroll by Storioni, suggests that there may well have been some kind of connection between the two men.
Ceruti’s work is rather cleaner and more precise than Storioni’s, but his choice of wood was often somewhat plain (see the 1813 violin). His main contribution to the history of violin making was the rekindling of the Cremonese tradition, and over three generations the Ceruti family were the principal makers in Cremona. Giovanni Battista Ceruti died in 1817, probably a victim of the outbreak of typhus in Cremona that year.