French, 18th century
François Etienne Blanchet the Elder
Paris, ca. 1740
This instrument is a fine representative of the "expressive double" harpsichord in the early 18th century. Typically the upper manual operates a set of jacks that pluck one choir of strings at 8’ pitch, while the lower manual controls a second choir of strings at 8’ pitch, a choir at 4’ pitch, and may be coupled to the upper manual so that any or all three choirs are accessible from the lower manual. The Blanchets became makers to the court during the reign of Louis XV, the period during which the French school of harpsichord composition reached its culmination in the works of François Couperin and Jean-Philippe Rameau.
Compass: 5 octaves, FF to e'''. Inscription: The name batten (not original) is inscribed: "Refait par Blanchet Facteur du Roi A Paris, c. 175-" (the last digit not legible). The outside of the lid and the exterior of the case are decorated with floral sprays and vines painted in gold over a dark grayish green background. (The varnish covering all the decoration has turned brown, obscuring the underlying green.) The two sections of the interior of the lid are decorated with pastoral landscapes sometimes described as being in the style of Boucher. The instrument is supported by a cabriole stand in the style of Louis XV. Length: 232.4cm; width: 90.8cm depth of case: 26.0cm Octave span: 15.9cm. Scale: c'' = 34.0 cm Two manuals, three choirs of strings (2x8', 1x4') Shove coupler.
Provenance: The Belle Skinner Collection
Accession No. 4876.1960