Harpsichord

Harpsichord

Harpsichord | Maker: Jan Couchet the Elder (Flemish, Antwerp 1615–1655 Antwerp). ca. 1650. Antwerp, Flemish.
IMAGE CREDIT: Metropolitan Museum of Art

A popular instrument of the renaissance and baroque, the harpsichord fell out of fashion and was replaced by the piano in the 17th century. In 16th century, harpsichord makers in Italy were making lightweight instruments with low string tension. A different approach was taken in the Netherlands notably by the Ruckers family – their harpsichords used a heavier construction and produced a more powerful and distinctive tone.

Jan Couchet the Elder was the grand-nephew of the famous Flemish keyboard maker Hans Ruckers. Couchet carried on the Ruckers tradition, inheriting the workshop of Ruckers’s eldest son in 1643. This harpsichord originally had only one keyboard and one set each of unison and octave strings.