One of the most important founding fathers of the Italian school of violin making, Gaspar Bertolotti was born in Salò in the province of Brescia in 1540. His family were known as musicians, and were contemporary there with the Virchi family of instrument makers. By 1563 he was established in Brescia, and his workshop clearly flourished. Considerable numbers of his instruments survive, including citterns and many types of viol, as well as violins, a few cellos, and the violas for which he is best known today. He was assisted by his son Francesco, Jacopo Lanfranchi, and from 1598 by Giovanni Paolo Maggini, who succeeded to the workshop after Gaspar’s death in 1609. Stylistically, Gaspar’s work is characterised by generally full, rounded archinngs, large open soundholes and rather rough-hewn scrolls. He frequently used double rows of purfling, with other decorative patterns incorporated. Important surviving works include the highly decorated violin preserved in the Bergen Museum, Norway, previously owned by Ole Bull, and a well preserved and uncut large viola in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.