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 in 1750 by François Étienne Blanchet and it was later given a treble ravalement in 1786 by Jacques Barberini and Nicolas Hoffmann.

 

 

The stand of the Franco-Flemish harpsichord after cleaning and restoration

 

 

          This photograph shows the stunning stand which was made to be placed underneath the Franco-Flemish harpsichord.  The escutcheons at the summit of the legs are ribbed and framed with elegant foliate decoration.  The cabriole legs have elaborate goat feet (cabriole means 'to leap like a goat').  There are the usual scrollwork, scallops, foliate and flower decorations carved and moulded into the gesso, all of which are typical of the high French roccoco.  The height of the stand is greater than normal and raises the instrument into a slightly higher playing position than is usual. This may have been done to accommodate the luxurious ladies gowns and petticoats of Mme de Pompadour, so that she could be seated normally while playing the instrument.  Visually the raised position makes the instrument look particularly striking and imposing.

         The stand is very fine and beautifully carved and gilded.  However, this style of furniture would have been completely out of date in 1786 when the Empire style was all the fashion.  But unlike the case of the instrument it has not been widened on the cheek side, and must therefore date to the compass extension of 1786 by Barberini and Hoffmann.  Clearly the stand was made specifically to co-ordinate with the Rococo style of the rest of the instrument's decoration.

 

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 09 December 2018.