Colmar Ruckers with Fantasy Landscape

Colmar Ruckers with Fantasy Landscape

The couple who commissioned this instrument were partial to Art Nouveau, a style that didn't come about until nearly 300 years after the original Colmar Ruckers was built. I created a design for the case inspired by early 17th century German silver work, with the same fluid, organic lines that define Art Nouveau. We agreed that the case painting should be subordinate to the lid painting: the palette is simply two shades of muted green with scrolling bands, stippled with the same dark green from the background, a subtle effect that adds depth and texture.

The landscape inside the lid is invented entirely from a list of features (waterfall, Romanesque ruin, people in period costume, etc.) which I then assembled into a composition reminiscent of late 17th and early 18th century landscapes. The soundboard is a faithful copy of the surviving soundboard painting, using period pigments.

The block-printed papers in the keywell and soundboard surround are handmade: the keywell paper is taken from the ca. 1600 mother-and-child virginals by Hans Ruckers which is apparently the only surviving instrument with this particular paper. The papers around the soundboard are from a design in Virgil Solis' pattern book of 1541. I carved the patterns into blocks of pear wood and printed them one sheet at a time onto Rives BFK paper.


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