19th century

Not on view

This instrument is a large bagpipe inlaid with tin/pewter (cornemuse incrustée d’étain) found in the Centre of France in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. These mouth-blown bagpipes feature a parallel melodic pipe and tenor drone, inserted in a common rectangular stock, as well as a separate bass drone. Bagpipe maker Bernard Blanc puts forward the theory that this type of bagpipe date from before the French revolution. His theory is based on the nature of the pewter designs, representing symbols of royalty and the church such as the fleur-de-lys, and testimonies found in nineteenth century novels and monographs (Blanc 1996:28-9). Pewter-inlaid bagpipes came in different sizes; larger ones were gradually forgotten as smaller, nimbler models took over from the mid-nineteenth century onwards, enabling more virtuosity.

This bagpipe, however, does not seem to be an original eighteenth-century model and is most likely a nineteenth-century copy. Bernard Blanc observed that the tin decorations still had sharp edges (Blanc 1987). In addition, some of the inlay has not been fully cut out, creating large sheets of tin, rather than the intended design. The bass drone is made of tinted boxwood, but the tenons remain the original light wood color. Finally, the presence of sandpaper marks, all point to the likeliness that this instrument is a copy made for the collector’s market. The copy, however, would have been made from existing instruments, as there are similar original instruments in museums today.

This bagpipe was part of the original collection of 270 instruments created by Mary Elizabeth Brown and donated to the museum in 1889. It was illustrated in the catalogue of her personal musical instrument collection ‘Musical Instruments and Their Homes’ published in 1888 and mislabeled as a bagpipe from ‘Sclavonia’ (Balosso-Bardin 2023).

(Cassandre Balosso-Bardin, 2023)

Technical Description
Conical single chanter 612 mm, 7/1 holes, the lowest hole doubled, 2 vent holes, reed missing (probably double cane reed with metal staple);

Bass drone in 3 sections 1146 mm, tenor drone in 2 sections 480 mm, both with tuning slides, cylindrical bores, reeds missing (probably single cane reeds); large cylindrical blowpipe 191 mm, leather flapper valve;

Sheep, goatskin, or cowksin bag without cover;

1 large rectangular flat stock with 2 bored holes for chanter and tenor drone, separate cylindrical stocks for bass drone and insufflation pipe;

all pipes and stocks inlaid with pewter decoration, the chanter stock, chanter, and bass drone with lattice-work pattern, both drones with fleur-de-lis pattern, turned decoration on blowpipe wood.


Balosso-Bardin, Cassandre, 2023. Five illustrated bagpipes in "Musical instruments and their homes": An insight into the 19th-century instrument collector’s world. Bibliolore.

Bernard Blanc, 1987. Notes in instrument file #89.4.856, September 24, 1987. Musical Instrument Department Archive, New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Bernard Blanc, 1996. ‘Les cornemuses du Centre : filiation et évolution’. Les cornemuses de George Sand : Autour de Jean Sautivet, fabricant et joueur de musette dans le Berry (1976-1867). Montluçon : Musées de Montluçon

Brown, Mary Elizabeth Adams and William Adams Brown, 1888. Musical instruments and their homes, New York: Dodd, Mead.

Cornemuse, wood, sheep or goatskin, pewter, French

Due to rights restrictions, this image cannot be enlarged, viewed at full screen, or downloaded.

Open Access

As part of the Met's Open Access policy, you can freely copy, modify and distribute this image, even for commercial purposes.


Public domain data for this object can also be accessed using the Met's Open Access API.