Giovanni Antonio Marchi was born on 24 April 1727 in a small village on the outskirts of Bologna. His family had a long tradition of woodworking, but he lost his father when he was eight and was then raised by his uncle Natale. In around 1745 he moved with his family to the city itself. Marchi started working as a violinaro (violin maker) around 1755, when he would have been 28. This information comes directly from his own words, taken from the preface of the book on violin making that he wrote in 1786 but which was never published during his lifetime.

His instructions are still quite familiar to modern violin makers. He had a considerable reputation as a violin restorer, and in 1805 was approached by Count Cozio di Salabue to serve in that capacity in Milan.

Marchi’s violins are typical of Bolognese work of the period and follow a model similar to that of Guidante: full in arching and very rounded in outline. The f-hole is usually placed at an angle and his scrolls have large and broad volutes. His varnish is also typically Bolognese, richer but firm in texture and ranging from a lighter gold to a golden brown.