A Franco-Flemish double-manual harpsichord, originally a transposing harpsichord made in Antwerp in 1617, and then ravalé in Paris, possibly by François Étienne Blanchet in 1750, and then in stages by Jacques Barberini, Paris, c.1775 and by Nicolas Hoffman, 1786.


Details of the Franco-Flemish harpsichord



David Henrie photographer


          This photograph gives a good idea of the splendour of this harpsichord.  The inside and the outside of the case are decorated on a ground of thick gold leaf with oil paintings on top of the gold, a process known in the eighteenth century as ‘vernis martin’.  The top surface of the lid incorporates a number of groups of figures.  The outside of the lid flap represents Artemis with her attributes and the outside of the main lid shows Juno and Flora along with an image of a reclining nude.  The painting of these figures has been attributed to François Boucher.  The outside of the case and the inside of the lid have now been cleaned and, once restored, the affected parts should look particularly brilliant and beautiful.

          The soundboard is painted with an eighteenth-century style of flower painting which is probably by Mabel Dolmetsch, the third wife of Arnold Dolmetsch

          The stand is particularly fine and beautifully carved and gilded.  The height of the stand is greater than normal and raises the instrument into a high playing position.

         The case of the instrument has been widened on both sides and the bridges have also been lengthened during the process of ravalement.  The ravalement process is described on the links below.  The registers were lengthened a number of times to accommodate the subsequent states, the wrestplank and nuts were replaced (finally in the present restoration) and the decoration was touched up to conceal the lengthening of the case sides.


Important Features of this harpsichord


A brief history of the musical and decorative states of the Franco-Flemish harpsichord


Details of the original state of the instrument


Details of the eighteenth-century states of this harpsichord


 Details of the modern history of this harpsichord


 A problem encountered in the ethical restoration of this harpsichord


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