Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Transverse Flute in D-flat

South Germany or Saxony, Germany
Hard-paste porcelain, gold-plated brass
Height: 24 5/16 in. (61.7 cm)
Aerophone-Blow Hole-side-blown flute (transverse)
Credit Line:
Gift of R. Thornton Wilson, in memory of Florence Ellsworth Wilson, 1943
Accession Number:
43.34 a-g
Not on view
Johan Friedrich Böttger's rediscovery of hard-paste porcelain in 1708 was the basis of a new luxury industry. Makers explored all kinds of applications in the new medium. Porcelain musical instruments posed enormous problems since during drying and firing there occurred substantial shrinkage. In the kiln, wet porcelain matter shrinks by a third of its volume so large molds had to be made to guarantee the precise final dimensions of bore, finger- and embouchure hole. Wooden flutes are easily fine-tuned and voiced by drilling; porcelain, however, makes later manipulations problematic. Porcelain flutes and carillons were rare, but ocarinas like one from Dresden in the Museum's collection were more common. After the porcelain sections of this flute, including its decoration, had been fired, a goldsmith completed the metal work, making joints, sockets, cap and key. Porcelain flutes were known only in the circles of high nobility. Another example of a porcelain flute is found in the British Royal Collection.
R. Thornton Wilson ; William Randolph Hearst
A Checklist of European & American Fifes, Piccolos, & Transverse Flutes. 2. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1989, pg. 10, ill.

"Musical Instruments in The Metropolitan Museum." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin (1978), Vol. XXXV, No. 3, pg. 37, ill.

Hosted by Laurence Libin in Lend Us Your Ears: A Series of Twelve Radio Programs. CD. Recording., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1978.

A Checklist of Western European Fifes, Piccolos, and Transverse Flutes. 1. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1977, pg. 5, ill.

James Bonn , keyboards, David Hart , flute in Historic Instruments in Performance. LP. Recording., Pleiades Records M1808. 1977.

Musical Instruments of the Western World. McGraw Hill Book Company. New York, Toronto, 1967, pg. 200-201, fig. 77, ill.

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