A Franco-Flemish double-manual harpsichord,
The history and restoration of a
manual harpsichord. It was made
in Antwerp in 1617 and ravalé by
François Étienne Blanchet, Paris
in 1750, and again in 1786 by
Barberini and Hoffmann, Paris.
It was probably commissioned in 1750 by
Mme de Pompadour for the Court of Louis XV
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 double-manual harpsichord started life as a so-called 'transposing' harpsichord made in Antwerp in 1617 by an unknown maker. Then, much later during the second half of the eighteenth-century it was given a series of ravalements in Paris in several stages. These alterations and the decorations carried out at the same time were carried out by some of the most important and famous French harpsichord makers and artists in the period from about 1742 - 1786. At some date between 1742 - 1750 the first grand ravalement widened the case and increased the bass compass down to F1. In 1750 it was given its exceptionally lavish decoration by François Boucher and Christoph II Huet. In 1750 it was given a treble extension up to d3 by François Étienne Blanchet who later became the court harpsichord maker to Louis XV.
It seems highly likely that it was initially 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.
The instrument has also had an amazing modern history ranging across much of Western Europe, the United States and South America and many of the important figures in the modern harpsichord revival. It therefore 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 in Paris shortly before 1889 and was played in the concerts given by Louis Diémer during the 1889 Exposition Universelle for which the Eiffel Tower was built. Its modern history involves some very important figures who influenced major world events - but not necessarily involving music nor furniture decoration!
Click on the images and links below for more information.
Click on this image to see details of the 1927 Sotheby's sale catalogue.
|The sections below relate to the scientific studies of the paintwork and decoration and to how these relate to the attribution of the various states and OF THE painter/decorators who worked on this instrument|
The following 4 images on the right all show clear evidence of the work of Christophe II Huet in the decoration of the instrument.
|Numerous scientific analysis have been carried out on the paintwork of the instrument, including UV examination, IR photography, grazing light photography, pigment analyses, etc. have been carried out in the course of the restoration work.|
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
Problems encountered in the ethical restoration of this harpsichord
Examples of Huet decorations
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This page was last revised on 19 December 2021.