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.

 

 

The cutout in the extension to the bass end of the 8' bridge of the Franco-Flemish harpsichord

 

           The bass end of the 8' bridge was extended (not seen in this photograph) and was cut away under the extreme end of the bridge as seen in this photograph.  This enabled the strings for the bass notes to run more parallel to the spine so that the jacks and quills could operate correctly, but also freed up more soundboard area at the bass end of the bridge so that the soundboard could vibrate more readily there as well.  This meant that the bass response of the soundboard (and therefore the bass sound of the instrument) was better than it would have been with no cutout.  Also visible in the bridge are the plugged holes of a previous set of backpins that was used in an earlier, probably twentieth-century, state of the instrument.  The cutout under the bridge had been filled-in by some unenlightened previous restorer, apparently unaware of Blanchet's desire to improve the sound of this instrument in this ingenious way.

          The 8' bridge with this cutout is a feature of many instruments either wholly by François Étienne Blanchet, or given a ravalement by him.  This cutout in the 8' bridge is one of a number of the characteristics of Blanchet's work that have been used to ascribe the 1750 ravalement to him.  The construction details of the jacks and the hand of the person who wrote the numbers on the jacks, and comparison of these with the same features on other instruments, indicates clearly that the ravalement was carried out by François Étienne Blanchet and that the date that of this ravalement was 1750 . 

 

Return to the section on the eighteenth-century history of the Franco-Flemish harpsichord

 

Return to the section on the description of the Franco-Flemish harpsichord