Cembalo

Michele Antonio Grandi

Carrara, 1635-1707

White Carrara marble, cm 267 x 80

Inv.

The Galleria Estense, Modena

Commissioned to Michele Antonio Grandi on behalf of duke Francesco II d’Este, it was created in six months. The instrument’s surface is completely occupied by an architectonic relief which depicts various decorations: stylized spirals which include leaves, tulips, a bird and roses. On the sliding slab which delimits the keyboard, the words “MICHAEL ANTONIUS DE GRANDIS CARRARIENSIS FECIT ET INVENTOR FUIT” can be read.

This unusual masterpiece, unique in its type, of great elegance and refined decoration, is the result of that attraction towards curious and somewhat bizarre objects which is a fundamental aspect of collectors during the renaissance and baroque eras, to which the Estensi fully adhered. From a note added to a document made to record the inventory of the palace in the 1700’s, and in which the cymbal is registered, it can be learnt that the instrument was in fact located in the Ducal palace of Modena up to 1872, after which all traces of it were lost.

Acquired by the Foundation Cassa di Risparmio di Modena, it is currently deposited at the Galleria Estense.