Characteristics of the Neapolitan School of Harpsichord Building


A good example of a Neapolitan harpsichord

Guarracino harpsichord, Royal College of Music, Catalogue number 175

Anonymous harpsichord attributed by me to Onofrio Guarracino, Naples, c.1660

Royal College of Music, London, Cat. No. 175


          This harpsichord has many of the features of Neapolitan harpsichords mentioned in the previous section.  The case sides are of maple, the soundboard rosette was originally in two parts one consisting of at least 3 layers glued to the top of the soundboard and one glued underneath the soundboard (this part is now missing although glue graces underneath the soundboard near the rosette hole), it has a wide lower moulding concealing a lower strip of chestnut, the keywell scrolls are carved female figures - possibly representing Partenope, the keyboard slides in and out like a drawer, there is a deep frame glued to the baseboard underneath the keyboard, the top cap moulding is flush with the mouldings immediately below it, the jackrail support is in the usual Neapolitan style, the nut is in two straight sections with a 'nick' in it and the nameboard is of the usual panelled design.

          In addition this harpsichord was designed using a unit of measurement of 21.637mm close to the Neapolitan unit of measurement and very close to the average workshop unit of measurement used by Onofrio Guarracino.  This, along with the similarity in the construction methods, construction materials, original string scalings and the moulding shapes to numerous other harpsichords and virginals by this maker, seem to confirm that it was made in Naples by Onofrio Guarracino.


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