A 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 treble ravalement in 1750 by François Étienne Blanchet, in Paris.  Later is was given a treble ravalement in 1786 by Jacques Barberini and Nicolas Hoffmann, also in Paris.



A view from the SPINE side of the instrument


Details about the Franco-Flemish harpsichord 

          This photograph gives a good idea of the splendour of the outside lid painting, the spine decoration and the stand.  The inside and the outside of the case are decorated on a ground of thick gold leaf with oil paintings on top of the gold, a process known in the eighteenth century as ‘vernis martin’.  The painting on the top of the lid has been attributed to François Boucher, Paris, 1750, and the decorations around the paintings and on the spine are attributed to Christophe Huet, Paris, 1750.  These paintings and decorations have now been cleaned and, once restored, the affected parts should look particularly brilliant and beautiful.  This is the only example in the world of a French 18th-century harpsichord with a decorated spine!

          The stand is particularly fine and beautifully carved and gilded.  The height of the stand is greater than normal and raises the instrument into a high playing position.


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 November 2021.