A Franco-Flemish double-manual harpsichord,
Details of the Franco-Flemish harpsichord
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. Among these are Venus and Cupid with their attributes on the top of the lid flap, and the top of the main lid shows Juno and Flora along with an image of a reclining nude. These figure paintings have been attributed to François Boucher and dated to exactly 1750, the date on the ravalement jacks. Around the figures there is roccoco rocaille decoration by Christophe Huet The outside of the case and the inside of the lid have now been cleaned and, once restored, the affected parts should look even more brilliant and beautiful than what is shown here in these photographs.
The soundboard is painted with an eighteenth-century style of flower painting which is probably by Mabel Dolmetsch, who was 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 and the wrestplank and nuts were replaced. The decoration was touched up to conceal the lengthening of the case sides.