Johann – Daniel DULCKEN, c. 1740

 Single-manual harpsichord with 52 keys A – D 3, made in Antwerp around the middle of the 18th century.

It is equipped with two sets of eight feet and one set of four feet operated by pull-tabs on either side of the keyboard.

Apart from the maker’s monogram in the soundhole, the instrument has no signature.

The decoration partially subsequent to manufacturing (18th-19th century) is made up of reserves around the perimeter of the body inside which puttis and garlands of flowers are painted. The cabriole feet are attached to a golden belt and carved in the rocaille style. The lid, in a single part, is decorated on the outer side with a romantic scene showing a couple in a landscape surrounded by puttis, while the inner side represents the kidnapping of Ganimède.

The maker :

 Johann Daniel Dulcken is the most famous member of distinguished harspsichord makers Flemish family of German origin. (1)

The ancestry and surviving instruments are recorded in the « Archives Dulcken, vol 1 » (Jean Tournay, Musée des Instruments de Musique de Bruxelles, 1987.)

J.D. Dulcken was born in Wingeshausen and was baptised there on 21 April 1706.  According to Burney, he died on 11 April 1757. (2)

He opened a workshop in Maastricht c. 1736 and was settled  in Antwerp by 1738, together with his wife Susanna Maria Knopffell.

1 : In Donald Boalch : « Makers of the harpsichord and clavichord, 1440-1840 », Charles Mould, Clarendo Press, Oxford 1995. (p.51,52)

2 : Charles Burney : « The present state of music in Germany », 2nd edn. London 1775. Cited by D. Boalch.

The instrument :

Recorded in Boalch : « Makers of the harpsichord anc clavichord 1440-1840 » third edition, Oxford press, 1995, p.304.

According to Jean Tournay there are only 10 surviving genuine Johann Daniel Dulcken harpsichords, dated between 1745 and 1769.

With only one exception they all have a specification of 2 x 8’, 1 x 4’.

These instruments are of some importance, not least because it is to be found in the last twenty years or sot they have been copied by many modern makers, often with considerable success.

A full investigation of Dulcken’s instruments is to be found in Jean Tournay (op. cit.).

The harpsichord here presented is the n°7 from the 10 repertoried.

Length : 222cm.    Width : 84cm.     Heigth : 95,5cm.

Provenance : Bought to Alain Vian, old musical instrument dealer in Paris, in 1955.

Private collection, Rouen.

Interior label of Michaelo Albani, in Venice, dated 1724.

Apart from the painting of the cover, the exterior decoration is later and the name of Michaelo Albani, (that of a famous family of Venetian harpsichord makers) was probably added in the 19th century, as very often at that time.

Restoration :

The instrument was completely restored at the “Atelier du Clavecin” by Laurent Soumagnac in 2007.

All the elements of body have been preserved, and the original keyboard retained. The jacks were redone from the only model still remaining on the instrument.

The wrestplank has been redone, and the end of the side, following deterioration caused by the old addition of a second keyboard.

This harpsichord was the subject of a recording of works by Jean-Sebastien Bach by Violaine Cochard. (“Preludes and other fantasies”. Editions Agogique; 2011

Restoration of the high register part of the soundboard.  (photos Laurent Soumagnac)

Restoration of the damaged part of the side. (photos Laurent Soumagnac)

                                                                             The wrest plank before the setting of the pegs.

Détail of the keyboard restoring. (L.Soumagnac)