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Harpsichord

Michele Todini (Italian, Saluzzo, Piedmont, bapt. 1616–1690, Rome), designer

Artist:
Basilio Onofri (Italian, Rome active second half 17th century) , gilt work
Artist:
Jacob Reiff (Austrian, Freiburg 1627–1700, active Rome 1650–1680) , carving
Date:
ca. 1670
Geography:
Rome, Italy
Medium:
Wood, various materials
Dimensions:
HARPSICHORD: L. of inner instrument 269 cm (8 ft. 9 7/8 in.); W. of inner instrument 87.2 cm (34 3/8 in.); D. of inner instrument 19 cm (7 1/2 in.); 3-octave span 48.9 cm (19 1/4 in.); sounding L. of original c2 was approx. 28 cm (11 in.) HARPSICHORD CASE: L. 299.7 X W. 96.5 X D. 37.5cm (118 X 38 X 14 3/4 in.) POLYPHEMUS: H. 152.4 X W. 132.1 X D. 127 cm (60 X 52 X 50 in.) GALATEA: H. 144.8 X W. 119.4 X D. 88.9 cm (57 X 47 X 35 in.) STAND: Triton section: H. 96.5 x W. 170.2 x D. 144.8 cm (38 x 67 x 57 in.) Mid-section: H. 99.1 x W. 104.1 x D. 88.9 cm (39 x 41 x 35 in.) Shell section: H. 114.3 x W. 94 x D. 88.9 cm (45 x 37 x 35 in.)
Classification:
Chordophone-Zither-plucked-harpsichord
Credit Line:
The Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments, 1889
Accession Number:
89.4.2929a–e
  • Description

    This gilded case encloses an Italian harpsichord of typical design but unusual length. Decorated with a frieze depicting the Triumph of Galatea and supported by three Tritons, the harpsichord originally formed part of Michele Todini's Galeria Armonica and was described in his catalogue of 1676. The flanking figures of Polyphemus playing a bagpipe (Todini invented one like it) and Galatea, were displayed with the harpsichord in front of a "mountain" in which a small pipe organ was concealed. Todini designed several lavish mathematical and musical machines and charged admission from the aristocrats who visited his gallery. The artistic quality of the case ranks it among the finest examples of Roman Baroque decorative art; Todini's ingenuity and search for new forms of instrumental expressivity grew out of the same musical climate that led to the invention of the piano.

  • Provenance

    Exhibited in 1872 at the South Kensington Museum in London; in 1878 at the World Exhibition in Paris; and in 1900 at the Exposition universelle internationale in Paris.

  • References

    Michael Snodin, Nigel Llewellyn, in Baroque: Style in the Age of Magnificence 1620-1800. Exhibition catalogue., The Board of Trustees of the Victoria and Albert Museum. London, 2009, pg. 104, fig. 2.32, ill.

    Dottoressa Franca Falletti, Renato Meucci, Gabriele Rossi-Rognoni, in Marvels of Sound and Beauty: Italian Baroque Musical Instruments. Exhibition catalogue., Giunti Editore S.p.A.. Milan, 2007, pg. 37, 121-126, fig. 8, ill.

    Ed. Dottoressa Franca Falletti, Renato Meucci, Gabriele Rossi-Rognoni. Meraviglie sonore: strumenti musicali del barocco italiano. Giunti Editore S.p.A.. Milan, 2007, pg. 37, 121-126, fig. 8, ill.

    "Keyboard Instruments." Summer. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin (1989), Vol. 47, No. 1, pg. 20-21, ill.

    "The Pianos of Bartolomeo Cristofori." Journal of the American Musical Instrument Society (1984), vol. X.

    "The Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments: Its Origin and Development." Metropolitan Museum Journal (1970), vol. 3, pg. 348, ill.

    Musical Instruments of the Western World. McGraw Hill Book Company. New York, Toronto, 1967, pg. 158-159, fig. 57, ill.

    Keyboard Instruments in The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Picture Book. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1961, pg. 18-19, fig. 8, ill.

    Catalogue of the Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments: Historical Groups, Gallery 39. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1905, pg. 126.

    Catalogue of the Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments: Europe. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1904, vol. I, pg. 267.

    Catalogue of Keyboard Instruments. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1903, pg. 83, ill.



  • See also
502377:1

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