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.

 

Detail of the case cheek decoration

 

          The outside of the cheek, bentside and tail are decorated with paintings of putti or cupids engaged in various amorous pursuits which, collectively, might be called The Triumph of Love.  Here they can be seen sharpening their arrows in preparation for shooting some hapless victim and sending him or her into swoons of ardent desire.  Other scenes show similar figures engaged, firstly, in target practice and, finally, returning from the hunt with their chosen victim pulled along in a chariot.

           The painting has been done in oil, and is painted on a ground of thick gold leaf.  This type of decoration was known in the eighteenth-century as ‘vernis martin’ after the Martin brothers who invented and developed this luxurious type of furniture decoration.  The putti are remarkably similar to a number of paintings by Boucher in various museums and galleries throughout Europe and North America.

 

Details of the Franco-Flemish harpsichord

 

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

 

 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 15 April 2018.