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Rückers harpsichord

This exceptional instrument, bearing the date 1624 on its sounding board, was built by Hans Rückers II, the celebrated Antwerp harpsichord maker. Upon its arrival in France in 1680, a number of keyboard modifications were made to the instrument so as to bring the harpsichord in line with developments in musical practice and in order to meet the demands of works written for the instrument by François Couperin and Johann Sebastian Bach. The instrument was immediately fitted with an elegant Louis XIV stand, while the underside of the lid was painted with a scene depicting King Midas judging the musical contest between Apollo and Pan. Acquired in 1980 by the Musée Unterlinden, this instrument boasts an impressive pedigree. Since the 17th century, it had been held in northern France at the Château de Condé (Condé-en-Brie, Aisne), an estate owned, maintained and restored with much care for many years by the family of the famous Marquis de Sade. The fact that only a very small number of Rückers harpsichords are part of public collections and that even fewer of these have remained in such an excellent state of preservation and fine playing condition makes this treasured possession of the Musée Unterlinden all the more precious. Its sensitive and precise mechanism, together with its sumptuous tone qualities, make this instrument a benchmark for harpsichordists and harpsichord makers. It is regularly used for prestigious recordings.

Rückers harpsichord
 

Hans Rückers the Younger (Antwerp), Harpsichord, 1624. Decoration and legs, late 17th century. Panel on the underside of the lid, King Midas Judging the Musical Contest between Apollo and Pan, around 1700, oil on wood, Musée Unterlinden, Colmar.

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