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Harpsichord

Harpsichord

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1725 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Hitchcock, Thomas (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Planed and joined walnut case, planed spruce soundboard with carved and planed pearwood bridge. Ivory-covered naturals and ebony sharps with 'skunk-tail' strips of ivory on the top.

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Mrs Luard-Selby

  • Museum number:

    126-1890

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

English harpsichords, made from about 1700 onwards, tended to be larger than Continental ones. Thomas Hitchcock the Younger (ca. 1685 – after 1733) was the most prolific member of a family of keyboard instrument-makers based in London, which spanned three generations from about 1660 to 1770. The Hitchcocks almost exclusively made spinets, and this harpsichord is one of only two that the family is known to have made.

Physical description

Harpsichord with two manuals, with a range of sixty-one notes, GG - g3, chromatic. The upper manual has two eight-foot stops and the lower one one eight-foot and one four-foot stop. The naturals are covered with ivory and the sharps are ebony, topped with a strip of ivory, a form of decoration known as 'skunk-tail'.The soundboard is spruce, the bridges pearwood and the case walnut. The jacks are made of service wood with tongues of holly. The lid is fixed to the case with four brass 'S' hooks and four brass strap-hinges engraved with floral decoration. The stand is made of balustraded legs of stained beech, and the stretcher between the front and back legs is a replacement made of stained pine.

Place of Origin

England (made)

Date

ca. 1725 (made)

Artist/maker

Hitchcock, Thomas (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Planed and joined walnut case, planed spruce soundboard with carved and planed pearwood bridge. Ivory-covered naturals and ebony sharps with 'skunk-tail' strips of ivory on the top.

Marks and inscriptions

Thomas Hitchcock, Londini, Fecit
Thomas Hitchcock made this in London.
Inscribed in ink above the keyboards.

Dimensions

Length: 231.7 cm, Width: 93.8 cm, Height: 26.7 cm hieght of instrument off its stand, Weight: 70 kg

Object history note

This instrument came from Ightham Mote, Kent, and was presented to the Museum in 1890, by Mrs Luard-Selby.

Descriptive line

English harpsichord, walnut case, double manual keyboard with ebony and ivory 'skunk-tail' sharps, Thomas Hitchcock, about 1725.

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

Howard Schott: Catalogue of Musical Instruments in the Victoria and Albert Museum - Part I: Keyboard instruments. (London, 1998), p. 70.

Labels and date

HARPSICHORD, by Thomas Hitchcock, London, about 1725. Inscribed Thomas Hitchcock, Londini, Fecit. Case walnut and soundboard spruce. The sharps are ebony with an ivory slip ("skunktail") and the naturals covered with ivory. The instrument has one "four foot" and three "eight foot" registers tuned an octave lower and a range of GG - g3.

Keyboard Catalogue No.: 22

Like the Claviorganum by Lodevyk Theewes (1579) in Gallery 52, this instrument comes from Ightham Mote, Kent, and the only known harpsichord by Thomas Hitchcock, a prolific builder of spinets and member of a London-based instrument making family that spanned three generations, from about 1660 until about 1770.

Given by Mrs Luard-Selby.

126-1890 [pre September 2000]

Materials

Walnut; Ebony; Ivory; Beech; Pine; Brass

Techniques

Planing; Carving; Joining

Categories

Musical instruments

Collection

Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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