The violin is the most modern embodiment of stringed musical instruments played with a bow. Like the guitar and other plucked string instruments, bowed instruments date from antiquity. Although its precise origins are not completely understood, it is probable that the violin (and its larger siblings the viola and violoncello) evolved during the mid-16th century in Northern Italy. In addition to perhaps being the maker of the first true violins, Andrea Amati (ca. 1500-1577) was the patriarch of the Cremona school of violin making. During the next 150 years, other members of the Amati family and their followers, who included Antonio Stradivari (1644-1737) and Bartolomeo Giuseppe Guarneri (1698-1744), brought the violin to its highest level of perfection both as a musical instrument and as a work of art. During the 17th century, violin making spread to all of the other countries of Europe and, in the 18th and 19th centuries, to the rest of the world. Although violins have been and are being turned out in large numbers by factories in Europe and Asia, most fine violins are handmade by individual craftsmen using essentially the same methods employed by classical Italian makers several hundred years ago.