Giovanni Battista Ceruti was born in 1756 in the tiny hamlet of Sesto, which was located between Milan and Cremona. It seems likely that he was engaged in the cloth trade, and this is possibly how he met the Bergonzi brothers, Nicola and Carlo II. Probably inspired by the Bergonzi brothers, Ceruti moves to Cremona in 1786 and takes up this new profession, although it would be a further ten years before we begin to see instruments bearing his own label.
Initially, it was assumed that Ceruti was a pupil of Storioni, but anecdotal accounts from Count Cozio di Salabue suggest he may have learned making from nobleman and amateur maker, Alessandro Maggi who supported Ceruti's efforts. Evidence suggests that it is possible, if not likely, that he assumed the Storioni workshop when Storioni departed Cremona in 1802. The conquering Austrians had abolished the guilds that had guided the trade since the Middle Ages and the Jesuit fathers whose educational institutions had supported the makers over the years found themselves suppressed by the Pope. The wealth that had been generated by Cremona as important trade hub was now requisitioned and taxed by the French and Austrian governments to pay for wars. The quality of materials suffered in Cremona during the second half of the 18th century as a result, but this did nothing to hamper the success of Ceruti. His legacy, as the very last of the great Cremonese makers, would come in the form of revitalizing the flickering light of the golden age of Cremonese making, and to pass it on to his son, Giuseppe Antonio, who himself would pass this on to his son Enrico. It is through this lone genealogical thread that the knowledge and tradition would be rekindled in the latter part of the 19th century in Milan, where Enrico Ceruti would go on to train Gaetano Antoniazzi, and through him, the tradition passes to Leandro Bisiach who would go on to employ and train many great makers of the 20th century. Sadly, Ceruti departed this world in 1817, likely as a result of a typhoid outbreak in Cremona that year.
Ceruti's violins are much in demand today by musicians for their superior tonal characteristics, coupled with their individual beauty and precise craftsmanship. This particular violin is a fascinating study, as Ceruti chose to model this violin after a long pattern Stradivari, and, as such, successfully harnessed the power and robust character inherent in the design.