Franco-Flemish double-manual harpsichord, originally a 'transposing' harpsichord made in Antwerp in 1617 by an unknown maker.  It was given a bass ravalement in Paris sometime between 1742 and 1750.  Then it received a major alteration when it was lavishly decorated and given a bass ravalement in 1750 by François Étienne Blanchet.  Later is was given a treble ravalement in 1786 by Jacques Barberini and Nicolas Hoffmann.



The painting of the outside of the lid of the Franco-Flemish harpsichord after cleaning, but before restoration




The outside of the lid has been decorated by two different collaborating artists, one of whom did the figure paintings and the other painted the ornamental decorations around these.  The figure paintings on the outside of the lid have been attributed to François Boucher, Paris, 1750.  These show Venus and her attributes on the top of the lid flap on the left, and Flora, Cupid and Juno and the figure of carnal love on the right. 

The roccoco decorations surrounding the figures have been attributed to Christophe Huet, Paris, 1750.


Venus and Cupid with their attributes.  Venus herself represents the embodiment of love and sexuality.  The Cupid is the God of desire, often portrayed as here as the son of Venus.  The bow and quiver full of arrows represent Venus and Cupid's power in the victory of love.  The scallop shell chariot rolls on golden wheel and Venus rests on a soft pillow with a tassel.  Two loving doves, a stock-in-trade of François Boucher, also representing pure love, coo sweetly below her.

The face painted on this figure is almost certainly that of Mme de Pompadour (see a further explanation elsewhere on this site). 




A detail of the painting on the outside of the main lid showing Flora, Juno, a putto, and a reclining nude after cleaning, but before restoration.  Even the two doves at the far left are delicately and lovingly painted.

These paintings, of an exceptionally high quality, have been attributed to François Boucher, Paris, 1750.  For a discussion of the added figure of Marie-Louise O'Murphy on the right above, click here.


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 19 December 2021.