A Franco-Flemish double-manual harpsichord, originally a 'transposing' harpsichord made in Antwerp in 1617, possibly by Frans van Huffel.  It was given a bass ravalement in Paris in 1750 by François Étienne Blanchet and it was later given a treble ravalement in 1786 by Jacques Barberini and Nicolas Hoffmann.

 

 

The stand of the Franco-Flemish harpsichord after cleaning and restoration

 

 

          This photograph shows the stunning stand underneath the Franco-Flemish harpsichord.  The escutcheons at the summit of the legs are ribbed and framed with elegant foliate decoration.  The cabriole legs have elaborate goat feet (cabriole means 'to leap like a goat').  There are the usual scrollwork, scallops, foliate and flower decorations carved and moulded into the gesso, all of which are typical of the high French roccoco.  The height of the stand is greater than normal and raises the instrument into a slightly higher playing position than is usual. This may have been done to accommodate the luxurious ladies gowns and petticoats so that they could be seated normally while playing the instrument.  Visually the raised position makes the instrument look particularly striking and imposing.

         The stand is very fine and beautifully carved and gilded.  Unlike the case of the instrument it has not been widened on the cheek side, and must therefore date to the compass extension of 1786 by Barberini and Hoffmann.

 

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 12 June 2018.