Giuseppe Ornati (1887-1965) was born in Albairate, Milan, and made guitars and mandolins as a hobby. In 1901, he moved to Milan to learn violin making from the amateur violin maker Carlo Moneta and it was not until two years later, when he joined the workshop of Leandro Bisiach, that he started to make violins seriously.
As many musicians, dealers and collectors visited Bisiach's workshop, Ornati was able to examine and study some of the finest instruments.
It was also durig this time that he worked alongside Gaetano Sgarabotto.
Sgarabotto was making perfect copies of the antique Italian violins that he came across while helping Bisiach with his dealing business. On the other hand, Ornati did not at all get involved in business side of things and concentrated on repairing instrumens and working with young apprentices. He was then establishing his own style by studying fine antique Cremonese instruments.
During the war, Ornati worked as a woodworker together with Giuseppe Pedrazzini, a colleague from Bisiach's workshop, but went on to set up his own workshop after the war in 1918.
Even after then, Ornati continued to take on repairing works from Bisiach and was trusted to look after Bisiach's sons as well.
Bisiach has credited Ornati as one of his finest apprentices out of many that he had.
In 1920, Ornati won the stringed instrument making competition in Rome with his violin and with his cello in 1923.
After winning many more prizes, he became one of the judges at instrument making competitions.
Having a passion for training the young generation, he also taught at what is known today as the International School of Violin Making in Cremona between 1961-1963 and his students included Gio Batta Morassi and Francesco Bissolotti.
Ornati's works are mainly inspired by Stradivari's, but are also influenced by that of Amati and Gugadagnini.
Ornati did not show too much of his own unique style but maintained a well balanced traditional approach with care and great attention to detail throughout.
Also, Ornati's works can be considered to be similar to that of Ferdinando Garimberti's, who also worked at Bisiach's workshop, but there is an important difference between their instruments.
While Garimberti's works are finished to perfection, which somewhat leaves an impression of arrogance and inflexibility, Ornati left room for imperfection in the finishing touches that resulted in elegance, beauty and warmth.
Ornati and Garimberti also differed in their personalities. Because Garimberti was meticulous and stubborn by nature, he often clashed with Bisiach and his business, but Ornati, with his open mindedness, maintained a close relationship with the Bisiach family until the very end.
Ornati was also well respected by many makers at the time and Garimberti, too, thought very hightly of him. The way Ornati was in nature most probably influenced how his works turned out.
The instrument being introduced here is Ornati's violin made in 1923 during his golden period, the same year that he won the competition with his cello. Starting from its outstanding antique finish, its form is clearly elegant and beautiful with its perfectly balanced size. This violin's details, arching, and finishing touches show brilliance and could perhaps be a symbol of the traditional violin making having made its way back to Milan.