This harpsichord is the real deal. Instruments described as ‘Taskin 1769s’ have been gracing international concert halls since at least 1882, but this is the French original, produced over a century before. It’s the most copied harpsichord ever and the most famous harpsichord in the world. All because of its rich, resonant sound.Because of its splendid sound and the elegance of its decoration, this instrument is probably now the most copied and most famous harpsichord in the world. Pascal Taskin was the court harpsichord builder to both Louis XV and Louis XVI, and was the best-known French instrument maker of his day. Taskin studied instrument making with Blanchet and subsequently married his widow to take control of the business. The registration is typical of French instruments having 2 x 8’, 1 x 4’ choirs with a buff batten for both 8’s. (Raymond Russell Collection).
Pascal(-Joseph) Taskin was one of the most famous harpsichord builders in Paris in the second half of the eighteenth century. He was originally from Liege in the Low Countries but moved to Paris by 1763 and worked for François-Étienne Blanchet the celebrated harpsichord maker. His sons entered into the family business and he became extremely successful with positions in the Royal Court. He invented new elements for harpsichords and also made pianos.
Technical description: Double-manual French harpsichord. Compass 61 notes F₁ - F₆ [FF - f''']. Three sets of strings, 2 × 8-ft, 1 × 4-ft, buff batten works on both 8-ft registers. Shove coupler. Rose bears the initials "PT".
String lengths (plucking points): F₆ 148 (91), C₆ 186 (96), F₅ 268 (107), C₅ 357 (115), F₄ 535(127), C₄ 711 (137), F₃ 982 (51), C₃ 1178 (162), F₂ 1443 (179), C₂ 1681 (191), F₁ 1765 (208).
Signature/Marks: Written around the rose "PASCAL TASKIN ELEVE DE BLANCHET".
Decoration: The outside of the case is painted with a pale green lacquer with gold-banding panelling; the inner surfaces are a pale chocolate lacquer with gold bands. The framed stand has six cabriole legs. The soundboard and wrestplank are decorated with sprays of flowers and a goldfinch perched on a branch.
Repair History: Restored by Louis Tomasini in 1882.
Technical drawing available for harpsichord and original stand from the Friends of St Cecilia's Hall. Please see http://www.stceciliasfriends.org.uk/
Bought by Raymond Russell in 1952; in 1940 owned by M. Labrousse; in 1920s owned by Martin Asseman; owned by the pianist Louis Diémer; 1897- owned by Mme Alphonse Le Duc; 1882-1897 owned by Emile-Alexandre Taskin, Paris.; Gift of Mrs Gilbert Russell, 1964.