Italian Single Manual Harpsichord

Description (Brief)
This instrument was made by an unknown maker in Italy, in 1693. It is a single manual harpsichord with a compass of GG – c3 (no GG#), and a disposition of 2 x 8’. The harpsichord has a fir soundboard, and boxwood naturals with boxwood arcades and ebony accidentals. The lowest jack and lowest key are marked “1693.” Research indicates that this harpsichord could be the work of Joannes Baptista Giusti.
The separable outer case is made of cypress painted with fantastical creatures. The interior of the lid is painted with similar creatures and features a female figure in the center of the keyboard cover and an inset painting with a seascape with boats, two figures in foreground, and a castle-like structure with a waterfall on the right side. The decoration of the exterior is not original and likely applied to the instrument when it passed through the workshop of Leopoldo Franciolini.
Restored to playing condition in 1959 with additional work in 1979, by William Dowd, this 1693 Italian harpsichord is currently used in concerts and featured on recordings by the Smithsonian Chamber Music Society.
Recordings currently available can be found at the following link:
Currently not on view
Object Name
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
paint (overall material)
metal (overall material)
overall: 41 in x 39 in x 101 in; 104.14 cm x 99.06 cm x 256.54 cm
keyboard cover: 1 in x 35 in x 9 1/2 in; 2.54 cm x 88.9 cm x 24.13 cm
harpischord: 40 1/4 in x 39 in x 100 in; 102.235 cm x 99.06 cm x 254 cm
place made
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
Music & Musical Instruments
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Musical Instruments
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
Gift of Hugo Worch
Additional Media

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