Made in Edinburgh by Grant O’Brien in 1981
Details about the soundboard decoration
Both the ‘mother’ and the ‘child’ part of the 1599 spinett virginal in the Castello Sforzesco, Milan retain their original soundboard paintings in reasonably good condition. The decoration of the soundboard of this copy is based on that of the original ‘mother’ virginal. The decoration consists of a rosette and paintings of flowers, fruit and insects. The usual birds found on later soundboards of Ioannes Ruckers instruments which were also painted in this style are lacking here. Also the decoration is particularly sparse compared to a lot of later instruments.
Scalloped blue borders outline the bridges and the edges of the soundboard and wrestplank, and elaborate blue arabesques help to fill out what would otherwise be empty, undecorated areas of the soundboard. The paint used was prepared using only the traditional pigments available in the seventeenth century and using raw gum arabic as a medium. The blue arabesques were painted using smalt (ground cobalt glass) and also used raw gum arabic as a medium. The date, as was usual in Ioannes Ruckers virginals, is painted just below the rosette.
All of the painting and decoration and the casting and gilding of the rose was done by Grant O’Brien.