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.



The spine side and the top of the stand of the Franco-Flemish harpsichord




This photograph shows the stunning decoration on the spine side and also part of the stand underneath the Franco-Flemish harpsichord.  The decoration on the spine is lacking any of the 'fine art' paintings attributed to François Boucher and found on much of the rest of the instrument.  On the other hand, this is the only 18th-century French harpsichord with a decorated spine in the world!

This decoration, and the decorations surrounding the Boucher paintings on the rest of the instrument, has been attributed to Christophe Huet (1700 - 1759), Paris, 1750.

The spine decoration, partly because of its simplicity, is perhaps the most elegant and refined decoration on the instrument.  However, although very simple in concept and execution, it is an extremely important part of the decoration and of the interpretation of the history of the instrument.  This is, indeed, the only harpsichord in the world with a decorated spine.  This almost certainly arose because this was a Royal instrument meant to stand ostentatiously in the centre of one of the rooms in the Palace of Versailles.

A detail of the spine-side decoration attributed here to Christophe Huet, Paris, 1750.


A detail of one of the panel decorations from the Salon Chinois at the Château de Champs-sur-Marne also decorated by Christophe Huet, c. 1750 for Mme de Pompadour.



Click here to see the details of the unusual front flap on 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 November 2021.