Anonymous Neapolitan harpsichord sold by Grant O'Brien to the Markiezenhof Museum, Bergen op Zoom, The Netherlands.

 

         In April of 1991 I was fortunate enough to be able to buy an historical Italian harpsichord from a private owner in Brussels. A photograph of this instrument with some details of its original case and lid painting can be seen by clicking on the image below.

 

 

Since buying this instrument I have examined it closely and made a detailed report on its condition, history, and provenance.  See, for example, Determination of the centre of construction of this harpsichord - 67Kb. As with all keyboard instruments, there is a number of factors that has to be taken into consideration before the decision is made to restore it I have considered its possible restoration and have decided that:

  1. the case of the instrument is sufficiently robust to be restored back to playing condition without danger of twisting or distortion.

  2. the instrument has been restored and re-restored many times in the past.

  3. none of the original ephemera has survived these many restorations, and would therefore not be destroyed in another modern restoration.

  4. the wrestplank has been riddled with woodworm and has a structure that resembles a sponge rather than a solid piece of walnut.  It is now insufficiently strong to withstand string tension. The nut is not original, but the positions of the original and eighteenth-century nuts are clearly visible on the top surface of the old wrestplank and these positions can be transferred to the new wrestplank. A new nut would have to be made using the bridge as a model.

  5. the advantages of restoration greatly outweigh the small amount of information that would be lost in a restoration to playing condition.

 

         The instrument has been restored and sold to the Markiezenhof Museum, Bergen op Zoom, The Netherlands. As explained in the details given with the link to the image above, the original case and lid painting have disappeared. I have since had a new case built and this case was painted in 2000 by Stefano Pessione and given a new lid painting. This painting and some details about it can be obtained by clicking on the image below:

 

 

Work by me using the unit of measurement used in the design and construction of the instrument has shown that it was made in Naples. Further details about this work can be obtained by clicking on the link below:

 

 Determination of the centre of construction of this harpsichord (67 Kb)

 

          The discovery that this instrument was made in Naples, and the need to study other instruments also made in Naples as part of the background work necessary prior to the restoration of the instrument has further stimulated my interest in Neapolitan harpsichords.

 

 

This instrument has been sold to the Markiezenhof Museum, Bergen op Zoom, The Netherlands as a restored and playing harpsichord.

 

The instrument is now in the period room on the first floor of the Markiezenhof Museum.  You can also see a 360 view of this room on the Markiezenhof website.

 

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