At a time when most French harpsichords were produced in Paris, Luigi Baillon made this instrument in a small village known for its Cistercian monastery. Baillon, who may have moved to Citeaux because of religious reasons, originally produced a simply decorated instrument. The sumptuous gold stand and painted decoration were added in the 19th century.An imposing sight in the gallery, this provincial French instrument is the only known example by its maker. At the end of the 19th century the instrument was extensively altered by Louis Thomasini, including the alteration of the compass which was restored to its original form in 1963. The case construction shows both Saxon and Italian influences, the outer case is eleboratedly decorated with chinoiserie scenes, while the lid feature a fine painting depicting Venus and Neptune. (Rodger Mirrey Collection).
Luigi Baillon was a French organ and harpsichord builder who worked in Paris. It is not known when Baillon was born but he was married in 1659. He initially seems to have trained as an organ builder. He also made harpsichords probably after training with one of the Denis family. In addition to these tasks he was a music engraver and an organist in Paris. He is known to have worked with the organist and composer Nicolas Lebègue. He died in 1681 and an inventory taken at this time includes several harpsichords, spinets and clavichords.
No information recorded.
Technical description: Double-manual French harpsichord. Compass 61 notes F₁ - F₆ [FF - f''']. Three sets of strings 2 × 8-ft, 1 × 4-ft, non-original lute. Coupler and non-original buff stop. 7-cabriole-leg stand has a concealed tool drawer in the cheek-side.
Signature/Marks: Inscribed on upper side of baseboard "fait par Luigi Bai[llon] organiste et fateure a Citeux l'anne 1755"; stamped on the 4-ft nut "REFAIT PAR LOUIS TOMASINI EN 1895"; written in ink on the top key of the upper manual "Compass altered to D-D Tomasini 1899 / Restored to F-F John Barnes 1963".
Decoration: The outer case is elaborately decorated with chinoiserie scenes, there is a seascape in the lid depicting Venus and Neptune. Stand, mouldings and bridge painted gold.
Repair History: Lute and buff stops added by Tomasini (?). The instrument was extensively altered by Tomasini in the nineteenth century, some of which alterations were reversed by John Barnes in 1963.
bought by donor from Morley, 1963-4.; Gift of Rodger and Lynne Mirrey, 2005.