Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Double Virginal

Lodewijck Grouwels (Flemish, active Middelburg, Zeeland, The Netherlands 1593–1600)
Middelburg, Zeeland, The Netherlands
Pine, spruce, paint, gilding, ivory
W. 75 × D. 20 in. (190.5 × 50.8 cm)
Credit Line:
The Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments, 1889
Accession Number:
Not on view
This is the only known instrument of Lodewijck Grouwels, a Protestant maker who left Catholic Antwerp in 1593 and moved to the Calvinist stronghold of Middelburg. The instrument is sometimes referred to as a “mother and child virginal,” as there is a main virginal (the mother) and a second smaller removable octave virginal (the child). The small keyboard is a replacement made by the famous harpsichord maker Arnold Dolmetsch in 1896 during a restoration of the entire instrument.
The instrument is lavishly decorated, with painted surfaces on the front (keywell), soundboards, and interior of the lid. The lid painting features the story of David and Goliath. On the far right can be seen the battle between the young David with his slingshot and the giant Goliath. In the lid's center is a procession showing David with the head of his slain adversary. On the left are the city gates of Middelburg. The story of was likely a metaphor for Protestant Middelburg, part of the United Netherlands since 1581, which bordered the Catholic Spanish Netherlands.

The large front-board bears the motto: SCIENCIA NON HABET INIMICUM NISI IGNORANTEM (Knowledge (science) has no enemy but the ignorant). The front-board of the smaller instrument, inserted in the case to the right of keyboard, bears the motto ARS USU IVVANDA. The soundboards of both instruments are painted with flowers and fruit, each with a rose bearing the initials L. G., and representing Pan blowing an organ with his lips.
Mary Elizabeth Adams Brown
"Flemish Harpsichords and Virginals in The Metropolitan Museum of Art: An Analysis of Early Alterations and Restorations." Metropolitan Museum Journal (1997), vol. 32, pg. 102-106, ill.

Makers of the Harpsichord and Clavichord 1440-1840. Donald H. Boalch and Charles Mould, 1991, Oxford University Press. Oxford, 1995, pg. 342.

Written by. Ruckers: A Harpsichord and Virginal Building Tradition. Cambridge University Press 1990. Cambridge, 1990, pg. 219, ill.

Colloquium: Ruckers klavecimbels en copieen (Ruckers Genootschap): Universele instrumenten voor de interpretatie van de muziek uit Rubens tijd. Ruckers Genootschap. Antwerp, 1977, pg. 84,85, ill.

Ruckers Genootschap. Antwerp, 1974, pg. 73, ill.

Historical Pianos, Clavichords and Harpsichords. N. E. Michel, Publisher. Pico Rivera, CA, 1970, pg. 82, ill.

Keyboard Instruments in The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Picture Book. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1961, pg. 16-17, fig. 7, ill.

"A Double Virginal, Dated 1581 by Hans Ruckers." Metropolitan Museum Studies (1930), vol. 2, pg. 179, ill.

Catalogue of the Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments: Europe. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1904, vol. I, pg. 85.

Catalogue of Keyboard Instruments. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 0, pg. 43,45, ill.

Catalogue of the Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments of All Nations: I. Europe, Galleries 25 and 26, Central Cases of Galleries 27 and 28. Catalogue., The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, vol. 13, pg. 85-86,85+, ill.

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