Colmar Ruckers with Joris Hoefnagel Motifs

Colmar Ruckers with Joris Hoefnagel Motifs

This instrument is a recreation of an existing 17th century Flemish harpsichord built by Johannes Ruckers in Antwerp, 1624. The original instrument belonged to the famous de Sade family until the 1970s at which time it was acquired by the Musee D’Unterlinden in Colmar, France, hence its name, The Colmar Ruckers.

The soundboard painting executed by Margrit Häberlin is a faithful copy of the original. The overall visual treatment is a collaborative effort between Kevin Fryer (the instrument maker), the person who commissioned the instrument, and myself. Since the original instrument was re-decorated in the early 19th century, we decided to come up with a visual scheme more closely related to early 17th century sensibilities. The designs which surround the exterior of the case are original, but are based on the work of a 16th century Antwerp artist named Joris Hoefnagel. An enormous cultural shift was occurring at that time, as people began to abandon superstition in favor of scientific explanations of the known world. We therefore included depictions of fantastic creatures such as snails with moth’s wings and serpents with bird’s heads alongside realistic renderings of tulips, berries and insects. Finally, Kevin Fryer applied a crackle varnish to imitate the warm patina that sometimes occurs on old pieces of furniture.

The inside of the lid is painted with a simple red-on-red diaper pattern, covered by a highly reflective glaze, which reflects the soundboard painting when the lid is open.


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