The eldest son of Andrea, Pietro Guarneri started to work for his father around 1670. In the early 1680s he left Cremona and settled in Mantua, and is commonly known as ‘Peter of Mantua’ to distinguish him from his nephew, ‘Peter of Venice’. Interestingly, the move to Mantua was probably influenced more by his career as a talented viol and violin player than by his skills as a violin maker. His playing responsibilities at the Court in Mantua occupied much of his time and this explains why only a relatively small number of his instruments survive. The majority of his output consists of violins, with no known violas and only one cello.
Pietro inherited the basics of the Amati tradition from his father, but he was more meticulous than Andrea, and his instruments display an elegance that is rare in the Guarneri family. The decorated violin dated 1685 shows a level of craftsmanship to rival the Amatis – the perfect symmetry of the scroll and f-holes justify Pietro’s position as the finest craftsman of the family. His later work displays a more masculine approach, as can be seen in the striking wood and fuller arch of the circa 1715 violin.
Unfortunately, none of his children followed in their father’s footsteps, although Pietro’s influence can be seen in the instruments of the later Mantuan makers Balestrieri and Camilli.