Harpsichord

Harpsichords are stringed instruments played with a keyboard. When you press a key, a string is plucked. This harpsichord was made in Florence in 1782 by Vincenzo Sodi. It was probably played at fashionable entertainments. Only five of Sodi’s harpsichords are known to have survived and this is the only one in Britain. It once belonged to a lady who lived in Florence in the 1920s. She left it to her nephew in Devon. In 1934 his family gave it to RAMM.
This harpischord can produce five octaves instead of the more usual four which made it suitable for compositions by composers like Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757).
Italy was the foremost producer of harpischords. They were very expensive. Their lids were often painted with landscape scenes. On this one there is a scene of Moses in the bulrushes under the main cover. Paintings of ships and mountain scenes as well as floral arrangements decorate the rest of the instrument. We do not know exactly who made these paintings. They may have been altered by a restorer called Leopoldo Franciolini after 1890.
Many harpsichords were replaced by pianos after 1800.

Object Summary

Accession Loan No.
105/1934/3
Collection Class
Musical instruments
Material
cypress (painted)sprucesteel and brassoak (boxwood veneered )walnut (boxwood veneered )
Common Name
Harpsichord
Simple Name
musical instrument
Inscription Transcription
IHS; JMJ (or IMI)
Production Town
Florence
Production Country
Italy
Production Date
1782
Production Person Initials
Vincenzio
Production Person Surname
Sodi
Production Year Low
1781
Production Year High
1782

View Full Details

Keyboard instrument: harpsichord