A Franco-Flemish double-manual harpsichord, originally a 'transposing' harpsichord made in Antwerp in 1617, possibly by Frans van Huffel.  It was given a bass ravalement in Paris in 1750 by François Étienne Blanchet and it was later given a treble ravalement in 1786 by Jacques Barberini and Nicolas Hoffmann.



A view from the spine side of the instrument




          This photograph gives a wonderful idea of the splendour of this harpsichord.  The outside of the case and lid 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 painting of the figures on the top of the lid have been attributed to François Boucher, Paris, 1750.  The ornamental decorations around these figures, and the spine ornaments are attributed to Christophe Huet, Paris, 1750.

         The stand is very fine and beautifully carved and gilded.  Like the case of the instrument it has been widened on the cheek side to accommodate the compass extension of 1786 so that the curve of the actual instrument's bentside no longer matches the curve of the stand.  This strongly suggests that the stand, in a high roccoco French style, is contemporary with the outer-case decorations and paintings of 1750.  The height of the stand is greater than normal and raises the instrument into a slightly higher playing position than normal.


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


 The attributions of the 1750 state to  François Étienne Blanchet, Christophe Huet and François Boucher


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This page was last revised on 20 January 2018.