Details of the History and

Restoration of a

Stunning Franco-Flemish

Double-manual Harpsichord


Antwerp, 1617 - Paris, 1750 - 1786



Click on the images and links below and at the bottom of this page to see

 more images and detailed information about this splendid instrument.


This stunningly beautiful Franco-Flemish double-manual harpsichord started life as a so-called 'transposing' harpsichord made in Antwerp in 1617, possibly by Frans van Huffel.  Then, much later, it was ravalé in Paris in several stages during the period from about 1735 - 1786. 

The instrument has an amazing history ranging across much of Western Europe, the United States and South America.  It was decorated in gold vernis martin in 1750, probably replacing an earlier vernis-martin decoration.  It was given a first grand ravalement widening the case, by François Étienne Blanchet who later became 'facteur des clavessins[sic] du roi'.  At the same time it was given the present elaborate decoration with figures attributed to François Boucher and ornaments around the Boucher figures attributed to Christophe Huet. 


It seems highly likely that was given its extravagant decoration because of its amazing sound and it is, indeed, still today one of the finest-sounding instruments in the history of French harpsichord making.  It may have played an important role in the social and musical life of the French Court at the time of Louis XV. 


But its history does not stop in the eighteenth century and it also turns out to be a very important document in the history of the modern revival of interest in the harpsichord and its music.  It was restored by Louis Tomasini and was played in the concerts given by Louis Diémer during the 1889 Exposition Universelle.  Its modern history involves some very important figures who influenced major world events - not necessarily involving music nor furniture decoration!

Click on the images and links below for more information.

The harpsichord viewed from the bentside

The harpsichord viewed from

 the spine

The harpsichord stand

The spine side of the instrument

The painting on the outside of the lid


Reclining nude by François Boucher

The painting on the inside of the lid

Detail of the inside lid painting 1

Detail of the inside lid painting 2

The keywell

A plan view of the instrument

The gilt hardware

The genuine HR rosette

A detail of a foot of the stand

The Tomasini decorations

Detail of the cheek painting

Detail of the bentside painting 1

Detail of the bentside painting 2

Detail of the bentside painting 3

Detail of the bentside painting 4

Details of the tail painting

Detail of the spine decoration 1

Detail of the spine decoration 2

Detail of the spine decoration 3

Detail of the spine decoration ends


A possible ownership by the royal French court.

Some important personalities in the French court around 1750. 

The construction and numbering of the extant jacks



This harpsichord is for sale


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


 A problem encountered in the ethical restoration of this harpsichord



This page was last revised on 11 October 2017.

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