Clavicytherium or upright Clavichord


    Clavicytherium or Upright  Clavichord 1589.

Purchased in 1965. 
The original date, 1587, of this vertical spinet are uncertain. Credentials depend on a dubious catalogue issued by a Florentine dealer, one Francolini, around 1900, who attributed its manufacture to Petrus de Paulus, who possibly never existed. Bought from Alain Vian . Note the doors, the latin inscription and carved angels. Doors are original, keyboard partly restored.
Italian, late 1500s, upright clavichord (Star, 21.11.73)  from a monastery in the south of France probably used to lead prayer and hymns, had to obtain permit from Musée du Louvre as they had to check whether there was still one in France, very few remaining, one in the Donaldson Museum of the Royal College of Music in London, another in the Metropolitan Museum, New York and a few in Germany.  It has about 3 octaves and its strings are about as long as those of a zither.  They are strung vertically over a sounding board which has two ivory ornamented rose-holes.  At the sides of the keyboard are gilt figures of cherubs in high relief.  The doors which close on the strings are ornamented with painted floral borders and panels of holy figures on the inside and a gold lettered prayer in Latin on the outside. [Tu mater..... tu puer.]  The sound produced when the keys are pressed down is small but tinkles clearly. (RDM 6.3.65)
Took two years to restore in Paris, early 17th century, probably made in Italy (RDM, 1.3.65)

Information from Franciolini catalogue, catalog 6, Series A
Claviciterio dipinto a soggetti sacri, fregi ed ornati dorati fondo bleu con stemma del Papa Sisto V  al quale credesi appartenuto.  Firmato: Petrus de Paulus Fecit 1587.  Temater tu virgo paris sotera  deum que tu puer es sotera tu puer ille deus.  Salve sancte puer salve vir guncula mater ter  venerande puer, lungo m.0.60, largo m.0.40, alto 1.10, rarissimo.  L. 1000

At Franciolini's trial an instrument, perhaps this one was mentioned as possibly being fake, due to: "...A clavicytherium had been made from an old shrine, and throughout the instrument there were forged parts..." (p.197)

1 comment:

  1. Is this really a clavichord with tangents?!?! I'd love to know, or is it plucked? Very curious!