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Piano

Piano

  • Place of origin:

    Spain (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1800 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Flórez, Francisco (Francisco Flórez (b. Murcia, d. 1824) was Spain's foremost piano maker during this period. He is kno, maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    The small roundels are intended to resemble blue and white jasperware plaques, although they are in fact carved in horn or ivory on a blue ground. The blue ground is painted with details such as trees in a white bodycolour. Some of the horn is cut very thin and has been used to simulate water in the landscapes. The roundels are glazed.

    When the case was restored by the Museum's Conservation Department in 1963, the missing ivory medallions were replaced by coloured photostats. (These have subsequently been removed).

    For a discussion of the use of Wedgwood plaques to decorate pianos, see Alison Kelly, <i>Decorative Wedgwood in Architecture and Furniture</i> (Country Life, London, 1965) pp. 128-9.

  • Museum number:

    48:1 to 4-1876

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

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Until about 1830, small pianos were shaped like rectangular boxes; in England they were known as ‘square pianos’. By 1791 Francisco Flórez (died 1824) was the leading piano maker in Madrid. He had spent the previous two years in London, studying English piano-making methods.

Flórez fitted this instrument with an English action, but followed French fashions in decorating the case and legs in the Neo-classical style. Jean-Demosthène Dugourc (1749-1825), the favourite designer and supplier of luxury goods to Carlos IV of Spain (reigned 1788-1808), propagated this style in Spain. This fine example of Spanish Neo-Classical casework closely resembles an unsigned instrument in the Palacio Real in Madrid. It may well have been made for someone at the court of Carlos IV (reigned 1788-1808) as Flórez is known to have supplied instruments to the King and the Condesa-Duquesa de Benavente.

Physical description

'The casework is of mahogany and rosewood decorated with brass banding, carved and gilt foliage, and plaques of cut horn and paper set on a blue ground to resemble Wedgwood jasperware medallions. The French-style frame has square tapered legs with gilt brass mounts. (The music stand is missing). The wrest-plank is of massive construction with a 50mm layer of beech laid on the same depth of pine. The bottom board is of oak rather than the lime or pine usually found on instruments in the English style of construction. The soundboard of spruce measures 3-4mm in diameter and a triangular piece has been inlaid at the right-hand rear corner. The scantlings are c. 18mm.'

Howard Schott, Catalogue of Musical Instruments in the Victoria and Albert Museum. Part I: Keyboard Instruments (London, 1985), p. 109.

Place of Origin

Spain (made)

Date

ca. 1800 (made)

Artist/maker

Flórez, Francisco (Francisco Flórez (b. Murcia, d. 1824) was Spain's foremost piano maker during this period. He is kno, maker)

Materials and Techniques

The small roundels are intended to resemble blue and white jasperware plaques, although they are in fact carved in horn or ivory on a blue ground. The blue ground is painted with details such as trees in a white bodycolour. Some of the horn is cut very thin and has been used to simulate water in the landscapes. The roundels are glazed.

When the case was restored by the Museum's Conservation Department in 1963, the missing ivory medallions were replaced by coloured photostats. (These have subsequently been removed).

For a discussion of the use of Wedgwood plaques to decorate pianos, see Alison Kelly, Decorative Wedgwood in Architecture and Furniture (Country Life, London, 1965) pp. 128-9.

Marks and inscriptions

Flórez
Madrid
Flórez

Dimensions

Weight: 93.5 kg, Height: 909 mm, Width: 7140 mm, Depth: 595 mm
[Square piano] Height: 29.1 cm, Height: 90.9 cm above floor, Width: 71.4 cm, Depth: 59.5 cm

Object history note

Purchased from Señor Juan Riañio, Madrid for £21 in 1876

The name 'FLOREZ MADRID' was discovered on the outer keys, written in ink, during conservation work at the Museum in 1963 (Departmental Catalogue).
[Square piano] Purchased from Señor Juan Riaño, Madrid.

Descriptive line

Square piano by Francisco Flórez, Madrid, ca. 1800

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Howard Schott, Catalogue of Musical Instruments in the Victoria and Albert Museum. Part I: Keyboard Instruments (London, 1985), p. 109. Christopher Wilk, ed. Western Furniture 1350 to the Present Day (London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1996) 230p., ill. ISBN 085667463X. p. 136.

Labels and date

SQUARE PIANO, Spanish, by Francisco Flórez, c. 1800., mahogany
case with gilt brass mounts and medallions of cut horn against a blue background, in imitation of Wedgwood Jasperware.
The instrument has a single action and a range of five and a half octaves, FF - c4. The highest notes are mounted on an extra frame under the soundboard, and their hammers emerge through a slot at the edge to strike the strings.
Museum No.: 48-1876
Keyboard Catalogue No.: 42 [pre September 2000]

Production Note

English-type square pianos were apparently made in Spain in the last quarter of the eighteenth century. An instrument of this type dated 1788 (Koster Collection, New Bedford, Massachusetts), inscribed Del Mormol / en Sevilla, for example, is remarkably similar to English squares of a few years earlier as regards form, construction, type of action and even the casework, albeit of lesser refinement. The English influence to be seen in the pianos made by Flórez for the Royal Palace in Madrid has been noted (Juan Jose Junquera, La decoración y el mobilario de los palcios de Carlos IV, Madrid, 1979, 32. A cabinet upright by Flórez in the Palacio Real is illustrated there, Plate 6). The present piano by Flórez, decorated with gilt ornaments and medallions inspired by Wedgwood originals, recalls the remarkable Broadwood piano of 1796 with a case said to have been designed by Thomas Sheraton. The Broadwood is a grand piano (formerly in the Deerfield Museum, now in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts) with a satinwood case set with 'Wedgwood's and Tassie's medallions' as the original bill states, and is richly decorated with gilt ornament. It bears the Spanish royal arms because it was presented to the Queen of Spain, Maria Luisa de Parma, by Don Manuel de Godoy, Prime Minister of Spain, who had commissioned it in London. (See James 1930, Plate LXII and William Dale, Tschudi, The Harpsichord Maker, London, 1913.)

Howard Schott, Catalogue of Musical Instruments in the Victoria and Albert Museum. Part I: Keyboard Instruments (London, 1985), p. 109.

Materials

Paper; Glass; Brass; Mahogany; Horn; Rosewood

Techniques

Carved

Subjects depicted

Scrolling foliage

Categories

Furniture; Musical instruments

Collection code

FWK

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Qr_O58877
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