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 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 three different artists, one of whom painted the neo-classical figures, another painted the 'add-on' figure of Marie-Louise O'Murphy to the right of the main lid painting, and the third 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 and Juno with the 'add-on' reclining nude on the main lid 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, also representing pure love, coo sweetly below her. 

 

 

 

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 03 February 2018.