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 bass 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.


Detail of the case Bentside decoration 2

          The outside of the cheek, bentside and tail are decorated with paintings of putti or cupids engaged in various amorous pursuits which, collectively, might be called The Triumph of Love.  Here they can be seen getting some target practice in preparation for shooting some hapless victim and sending him or her into swoons of ardent desire.  Other scenes show similar figures engaged, firstly, sharpening their arrows, and, finally, returning from the hunt with their chosen victim pulled along in a chariot.       

          This detail is of the bentside was originally at the cheek end of the bentside with a vertical line of foliage covering over the physical join in the wood of the bentside at the far left.  This part of the 'Triumph of Love' contains what is, perhaps, the most un-retouched part of the whole series.  This is the head (barely recognisable at this scale) of the lying putto with his quiver of arrow in the lower central part of this detail.

Detail of the head of the central putto

          It seems likely that all of the figures of the lockboard, cheek, bentside and tail were painted with the same consummate skill as the painting of this little brunette putto.


Details of the Franco-Flemish harpsichord


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 December 2021.