Antonio Gragnani lived and worked in the busy port town of Livorno, situated about 75 kilometres from Florence. It is likely that Gragnani learned the skills of his trade in Florence, but his style differs noticeably from that of his Florentine contemporaries, such as Carcassi or Gabbrielli. His tendency to identify his instruments by branding his initials into the button (see below) suggests that he may have been associated with Gabbrielli, whose 1770 violin displays a similar brand.
Whereas Stainer’s influence was prevalent in Florence, Gragnani evidently looked to Stradivari for inspiration, and his archings bear more similarity to Cremonese work than to that of the Florentine makers. Interestingly, Gragnani is one of the only known makers in Italy to use whalebone in his purfling. Perhaps living in such a busy seafaring town, with its abundance of goods passing through, gave him the chance to use a material unavailable to his inland colleagues.
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