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.  Later is was given a treble ravalement in 1786 by Jacques Barberini and Nicolas Hoffmann.


The stunning double-manual

 harpsichord made in Antwerp

in 1617 and decorated and

ravalé in Paris is for sale.


          This harpsichord was originally built in Antwerp in 1617 but, although the date is known, the original maker is unknown.  It was originally a normal double-manual Flemish harpsichord with two keyboard at pitches a fourth apart, and with the usual disposition of 1x8', 1x4' and 4 registers - two for each keyboard.  Although it now has a genuine early Ioannes Ruckers soundboard rosette, this rosette is too small for the size of the hole in the soundboard and a careful analysis of the structure and design of the instrument shows that it was not made by any of the members of the Ruckers family.   

          The instrument was mis a ravalement in Paris at some time between 1742/43 and 1750.  The exact details of its state during this period is unknown, but it may have had a compass of F1 to d3 without widening the case on the treble side.  With a compass going up to d3, this would have meant lowering the pitch, probably by 2 semitones.  In 1750 new keyboards, jacks and registers were made with the bass compass down to F1, but with the nuts moved to 'correct' the pitch.  The instrument then had the same F1 to d3 compass but at the correct pitch.  It was also given its lavish and extravagant large figure paintings on the outside of the lid by François Boucher (1703 - 1770).  The ornaments surrounding these and the paintings on the outside of the case and spine were decorated by Christophe II Huet (1700 - 1759).  Blanchet's ravalement can be dated 1750 because the date is written on three of the rows of jacks.   It was then later given a further treble ravalement by Nicolas Hoffmann and Jacques Barberini who extended the treble compass further up to f3 in 1786. 

          The result is now that it is a classic French double-manual harpsichord with a full 5-octave compass and a disposition with 2 x 8', 1 x 4' and a peau de buffle set of jacks.  The stunningly-beautiful decoration has been meticulously cleaned and restored.  The sound is pure, full, rich and evenly-balanced across the entire compass of the instrument.  It creates an impression of immense power and opulence.  The sound has made a lasting impression on everyone who has heard or played the instrument and it is, without a doubt, one of the finest and most beautiful examples of 18th-century French harpsichord decoration and building in existence.


Click here for further information.



For further details, please contact Grant O'Brien