There is some confusion regarding the early members of the Grancino family, and for many years it was believed that Giovanni, the principal maker of the family, was the son of Paolo Grancino, who was reputed to have been a pupil of Nicolò Amati. No evidence has been found to support Paolo’s existence, and the first known reliable reference to the Grancino family as violin makers comes from Cozio di Salabue, who simply refers to the similarity of the Grancinos’ f-holes to those of Nicolò Amati. Giovanni’s godfather, the composer Michelangelo Grancini, may have been responsible for Giovanni’s choice of career, and in the early years Giovanni worked with his brother Francesco (see the 1692 viola by Giovanni & Francesco Grancino).
Grancino’s instruments were generally made with less spectacular wood than those of his Cremonese competitors, reflecting the requirements of his Milanese clientele, but Grancino was a fine craftsman, as is illustrated by the beautiful f-holes and deeply-cut scroll of the circa 1700 violin. His early instruments have a soft red-brown varnish (see the 1693 violin) but around 1700 this changes to a harder golden yellow. Most of Grancino’s cellos, which were made on the large pattern prevalent in the late 17th century, have been cut down, but an our archive features an uncut example from circa 1695.
In 1708 Grancino was convicted of the manslaughter of his rival Santino Lavazza. He was banished from his hometown and at this point it becomes difficult to keep track of his violin-making activities. The establishment of a shop in the names of his sons Michel Angelo and Francesco may well have been a ruse to allow Giovanni to continue his work, and original labels dated as late as 1726 are known to exist. The date of Grancino’s death has not yet been established with any degree of certainty.