Photos Courtesy of Studio Pedretti
Giancarlo Pedretti, master engraver and a pioneer in the Italian gun trade, died unexpectedly September 28. He was 69.
His son Stefano, creative collaborator since the early 1990s, will carry on the work of Studio Pedretti with its small staff.
Born in 1947 into a family of gunmakers and hunters in Gardone, Giancarlo was witness to the post-war rebirth of the sporting-arms industry in his hometown. His father and uncles worked at Beretta, where they were chosen for the special small-shop production of SO series shotguns and other fine firearms. There, Giancarlo’s father approached master engraver Tononcelli to express his son’s interest in becoming an engraver, and at the age of 13 Giancarlo began a three-year apprenticeship, after which he immediately was hired.
Giancarlo proceeded to push the boundaries of his art and trade for more than 50 years and was still hard at work at the bench at Studio Pedretti. “He was the first to open the shop every morning and the last to close it every night,” said Elena Micheli-Lamboy, co-author with her husband, Stephen Lamboy, of the lavish book Giancarlo & Stefano Pedretti—Master Engravers. Giancarlo suffered a heart attack at home in the evening, she said, though he was physically fit from his enthusiasm for hiking and hunting in the surrounding mountains.
Early in his career, Giancarlo developed a reputation as a multi-talented engraver in an array of styles, from scroll to bulino game scenes. When Stefano finished art school and turned to engraving, he took bulino engraving to new heights of artistic super-realism, and the father-son team became especially popular for Giancarlo’s background and scroll framing Stefano’s bulino work.
In 1990 the Pedrettis became the first Italians commissioned to engrave a gun by Purdey. According to Micheli-Lamboy, this was indicative of one of Giancarlo’s greatest skills: to see beyond the traditional boundaries of the Val Trompia gun trade. “Pedretti Studio does probably more work for the British gunmakers than any of the Italian engravers,” she said. “[Giancarlo] was able to really break through that barrier, as Stefano is today.”
Understandably, according to Micheli-Lamboy, “hundreds and hundreds” of people attended Giancarlo’s funeral, “with probably 80 percent of them from the gun trade.”
Giancarlo Pedretti was certainly a man of his place and time, and he created his art by virtue of untold hours of discipline and devotion. His collaborative work with his son leaves a legacy that may never be matched.