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Harpsichord thumbnail 2
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Harpsichord

1639 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Ioannes Ruckers (1578-1642) was the most important member of the Ruckers family of Antwerp, Europe's leading dynasty of harpsichord builders from about 1580 to1650. In 1766 King George III (reigned 1720–1820) replaced this instrument with one made by Jacob Kirckman (1710–1792), whose harpsichords were by then the most sought-after owing to the devices he introduced to vary their volume. Thereafter this harpsichord languished in the Kirckman factory. It was damaged in a fire there in 1855, since which time it has lacked its keys and jacks.


object details
Category
Object Type
Parts
This object consists of 2 parts.

  • Lid Prop
  • Harpsichord
Materials and Techniques
Planed, joined and painted wooden (poplar?) case with planed and partly painted spruce soundboard, with gilt lead rose.
Brief Description
Harpsichord, Flemish (Antwerp), poplar(?) case and spruce soundboard, by Ioannes Ruckers, 1639
Physical Description
Harpsichord with painted floral soundboard, missing its keys, strings and jacks. There is no stand.



'The outside of the case, presumably of poplar, is painted black with rather stiff garlands of flowers and leaves in two sorts of gilding. The interior of the lid is painted green and decorated with rococo scrollwork and putti, all in a greenish-yellow monochrome, apparently executed during the third quarter of the eighteenth century. The interior of the harpsichord and the keyboard surround are crudely painted with black and white arabesques to resemble vaguely the Antwerp block-printed papers commonly used to decorate seventeenth-century Flemish harpsichords and virginals. The soundboard of spruce is decorated in gouache with flowers, fruit, birds and arabesques, and contains the maker's rose as a trade mark: a winged figure holding a harp and supporting the initials I.R.



Howard Schott, Catalogue of Musical Instruments in the Victoria and Albert Museum - Part I: Keyboard Instruments(London, 1978), pp. 57-58.
Dimensions
  • Length: 173.1cm
  • Width: 78.5cm
  • Height: 21.2cm
Marks and Inscriptions
  • IR (IR on the rosette of the soundboard)
  • 1639 (The date is painted on the soundboard at the base of the 4-foot bridge (i.e. the one nearest the key-well).)
Credit line
Given to the Museum by Messrs Kirckman & Sons
Object history
This instrument was formerly the property of George III (reigned 1760 - 1820), who replaced it in 1766 with a harpsichord made by Jacob Kirckman. The instrument was damaged in a fire in the Kirckman factory in 1855, and given to the South Kensington Museum in 1869.
Production
Attribution note: Howard Schott in the Catalogue of Musical Instruments in the Victoria and Albert Museum ... assumes that the case of this instrument was poplar. Grant O'Brien in Ruckers. A harpsichord and virginal building tradition (Cambridge, 1990) says that poplar was most commonly used by Ruckers for making harpsichord cases. However, because the case is covered with paint, it cannot be identified with certainty.
Summary
Ioannes Ruckers (1578-1642) was the most important member of the Ruckers family of Antwerp, Europe's leading dynasty of harpsichord builders from about 1580 to1650. In 1766 King George III (reigned 1720–1820) replaced this instrument with one made by Jacob Kirckman (1710–1792), whose harpsichords were by then the most sought-after owing to the devices he introduced to vary their volume. Thereafter this harpsichord languished in the Kirckman factory. It was damaged in a fire there in 1855, since which time it has lacked its keys and jacks.
Bibliographic Reference
Howard Schott: Catalogue of Musical Instruments in the Victoria and Albert Museum - Part I: Keyboard instruments. (London, 1998), pp. 57 - 58.
Collection
Accession Number
1739-1869

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record createdOctober 15, 2008
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