Attributed to Cornelius VAN DER DOES in AMSTERDAM, c.1820.

 CORNEILLE CHARLES EMMANUEL VAN DER DOES. (Voorburg, 1769 – Amsterdam, 1827)

The case of mahogany, the front panel with gilded upper moulding terminating in a scroll supported on a fluted column with a capital of black and gilded acanthus leaves.

The Six and a half octave keyboard  (CC to G4)  supported by gilded rams’ heads, the faciaboard of rosewood with double brass stringing.

The sound board and the action, from the second part of the nineteen century made by J.J. Nissen in Amsterdam and signed on the wrest plank. The label of the dealer J.A. Buschen is visible inside the case.

The Girafe piano original action, considered as fragile and not much functional, often gave rise to this type of modernization. Here we have the “bayonet” action developed by Alphonse Blondel in Paris, maker of the Imperial Music Academy.

We can establish points of similarity between this instrument and the one signed by Van der Does in the Victoria & Albert Museum. The wood, the proportions and the decoration are strictly similar, except that the keyboard with round cover is supported by gilded lions instead of rams.

The firsts girafe-pianos seem to come from Vienna around 1800. Their decorative qualities assure their success in several european countries. Generally imported from Austria and signed by the dealers, they follow the Empire style then Biedermeier after the downfall of Napoleon.  The instrument here presented belongs to the dutch making with the two pedals (forte and una corda) following the english or french style. (Contrarily to the vienese models which generally had between three and six stops)

Two instruments of Cornelius Van der Does are now repertoried: A square piano in the Metropolitan Museum of Art of New-York and the model mentioned above in the Victoria and Albert Museum of London.  This girafe-piano was offered at Sotheby’s in 1994.       

            Height : 230cm Width : 117cm.




– Howard Scott: “Victoria and Albert Museum catalogue of musical instruments”; Vol 1, pp. 117-118.

– Pascale Vandervellen : Le piano de style en Europe, des origines à 1850, Mardaga ed. Liège 1994. pp.103-104…

– Martha Novak Clinskale : Makers of the Piano 1700-1820, Oxford University Press, New York 1993.

– Philip James : Early Keyboard Instruments, P. Davies ed. Londres 1930.

– Rosamund Harding : The Piano-forte. Da Capo press, Londres 1933.