Ioannes Ruckers harpsichord, Antwerp, 1632

From the 14th  to the 18th century the harpsichord was the precursor of the piano. During 4 generations the harpsichords and virginals built by the Ruckers family were seen as the best and most popular instruments ever built. A harpsichord built by Ruckers was equality exclusive as a violin built by Stradivarius. A changing taste resulted in the adaptation of the Ruckers harspichords during the 19th century, giving them a broader key compass. Those instruments were sold as second hand instruments and were more expensive than new instruments of other respected builders.

This is an extraordinary transposing double-manual harpsichord original combined with a virginal, made by Ioannes Ruckers in 1632, later converted into an aligned and ravalé double-manual harpsichord. The ravalement of the instrument was most likely the work of the Antwerp maker Ioannes Petrus Bull. The soundboard painting is of high quality. The harpsichord originally had two manuals, one of which was transposing. The upper manual extends from C/E to c’’’ (45 notes), the lower manual from C/E to f’’’ (50 notes), but sounds a fourth lower, allowing therefore for a transposition downwards of a fourth. The virginal has manual extends from C/E to c’’’ (45 notes) 

Technical data:

  • Compass: two 5 octaves and 2 notes keyboards (FF-g''')
  • Keyboard: naturals in bones, sharps in ebony
  • Registers: 2x8', 1x4' and a harp stop
  • Dimensions: L 248 cm / W 98 cm
  • Literature: Boalch 3 remarks: All that is known about the instrument comes from B2. B2 says 'It was in Ghent in 1972'. He adds a reference EM R, and says that the instrument has an IR rose. Page 596.
    P. VANDERVELLEN, "The Golden Age of Flemish Harpsichord Making - a Study of the MIM's Ruckers Instruments", 2017, p. 16-17
  • Chris Maene Collection number: CM 67 111
  • Location: 1 - Museum "Piano's Maene" Brussels

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