"A descendant of the lute and cousin to the balalaika, bouzouki and oud, the instrument that would become the modern mandolin emerged in 18th-century Italy. For the better part of two centuries it changed very little, staying close to its initial Neapolitan design with a deep bowl back, flat top and teardrop shape. The mandolin crossed to America along with Italian immigrants in the 1800s and swiftly grew to popularity. In the late 18th and early 20th Centuries, Lyon & Healy, Gibson, Martin, and other makers increased the mandolin's availability, with mandolin orchestras springing up across the country.
In 1908, new A-style and F-style mandolins, based on a violin and designed by Orville Gibson, swept across the nation. Lloyd Loar's Master Model Gibson F-5, with its longer neck, elevated fingerboard, adjustable bridge, and unmatched sound, would ultimately change the landscape but was introduced too late to have a significant initial impact. Bill Monroe revived the mandolin's popularity with the high lonesome sound of bluegrass and artists including David Grisman, Sam Bush, and Caterina Lichtenburg have expanded the experimentation of its sound and possibility."
Among those musicians who play or are associated with the mandolin, you will find such names as Brian Macdonald (of Judah & the Lion), Vince Gill, Chris Thile, Sam Bush, Bill Monroe, Ricky Skaggs, Kenneth "Jethro" Burns, Ry Cooder, Ritchie Blackmore, Bob Schmidt (of Flogging Molly), Levon Helm, and Kevin Jonas.
Source: The Gallery of Iconic Guitars, Greatest Mandolinists of All Time