Annibale Fagnola was one of ten children born to a family of farmers in Montiglio, about 50km from Turin. He served apprenticeships as a baker and as a mechanic in the town of his birth, and probably gained some experience in instrument making there, before moving to Turin in 1894. He established his own workshop the following year, and was helped in his early career by the dealer and collector Orazio Roggero. In 1906 he won medals at the Genoa and Milan exhibitions, and with this recognition came commercial success.
Fagnola’s early works are often faithful copies of the great makers of the past, notably Stradivari, Guadagnini (see a violin, 1929), Pressenda and Rocca, and the deep red varnish of this period shows a desire to emulate his Turinese predecessors. As his career progressed his own personality began to assert itself in his work, although Pressenda remained a strong influence, and many of his best instruments are built on that model (see the 1925 violin). His reputation spread internationally from about 1910, first to England and then to the USA, and by 1930 his work was well known to the Hills and Beares in London, and to Wurlitzer in New York. His instruments are consistently beautifully executed, and he used only materials of the highest quality. Tonally, he achieved excellent results, and today he ranks as one of the leading makers of the modern Italian school.