Details of the History and

Restoration of a

Stunning Franco-Flemish

Double-manual Harpsichord

 

Antwerp, 1617 - Paris, 1750 - 1786

 

 

Click on the images and links below and at the bottom of this page to see

 more images and detailed information about this splendid instrument.

 

This stunningly beautiful Franco-Flemish double-manual harpsichord was originally a so-called 'transposing' harpsichord made in Antwerp in 1617 by an unknown maker.  Then, much later, it was ravalé in Paris in several stages during the period from about 1735 - 1786. 

The instrument has an amazing history ranging across much of Western Europe, the United States and South America.  It was decorated in gold vernis martin in 1750, probably replacing an earlier vernis-martin decoration.  It was given a first ravalement, probably by François Étienne Blanchet and was given a decoration in 1750 with figures attributed to François Boucher and ornamental decoration attributed to Christophe Huet. 

 

At the moment the decorations are only attributed to Boucher and Huet, and the definitive substantiation of their authorship awaits the opinions of experts in the field of French eighteenth-century decorative and fine arts.

 

It seems highly likely that was given its extravagant decoration because of its amazing sound and it is, indeed, still today one of the finest-sounding instruments in the history of French harpsichord making.  It may have played an important role in the social and musical life of the French Court at the time of Louis XV. 

But its history does not stop in the eighteenth century and it also turns out to be a very important document in the history of the modern revival of interest in the harpsichord and its music.  It was restored by Louis Tomasini and was played in the concerts given by Louis Diémer during the 1889 Exposition Universelle.  Its modern history involves some very important figures who influenced major world events - not necessarily involving music nor furniture decoration!

Click on the images and links below for more information.

The harpsichord viewed from the bentside

The harpsichord viewed from

 the spine

The harpsichord stand

The spine side of the instrument

The painting on the outside of the lid

 

Reclining nude by François Boucher

The painting on the inside of the lid

Detail of the inside lid painting 1

Detail of the inside lid painting 2

The keywell

A plan view of the instrument

The gilt hardware

The genuine HR rosette

A detail of a foot of the stand

The Tomasini decorations

Detail of the cheek painting

Detail of the bentside painting 1

Detail of the bentside painting 2

Detail of the bentside painting 3

Detail of the bentside painting 4

Details of the tail painting

Detail of the spine decoration 1

Detail of the spine decoration 2

Detail of the spine decoration 3

Detail of the spine decoration ends

 

A possible ownership by the royal French court.

Some important personalities in the French court around 1750. 

The construction and numbering of the extant jacks

 

 

This harpsichord is for sale

 

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

 

 

This page was last revised on 14 June 2017.

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