Jan Couchet the Elder (Flemish, Antwerp 1615–1655 Antwerp)
ca. 1650
Antwerp, Flemish
Wood and various materials
L. 229 cm (90 1/8 in.); W. 85.5 cm (33 3/4 in.); D. 26.9 cm (10 1/2 in.); 3-octave span 50.1 cm (19 3/4 in.)
Sounding length (longer 8' choir, plucking points):
8' 4'
FF 169.3 (15.1) 92.5 (5.9)
c2 33.1 (6.1) 15.3 (2.8)
c3 16.9 (4.4) 7.7 (2.5)
Credit Line:
The Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments, 1889
Accession Number:
Not on view
Jan Couchet the Elder was the grandson of the famed Flemish keyboard maker Hans Ruckers. Couchet carried on the Ruckers tradition, inheriting the workshop of Ruckers's eldest son in 1643. This harpsichord originally had only one keyboard and one set each of unison and octave strings. In the eighteenth century the case was lengthened and a second keyboard and a second set of unison strings were added. The number of rows of jacks was increased from two to four: a close-plucking "lute stop" that plucks one set of unison strings from the upper keyboard, a second row that plucks the other set of unison strings and is operated from both keyboards, a third row that plucks the octave strings, and a fourth row that plucks the same strings as the lute stop. Both the first and the fourth rows divide at middle C, so that it is possible to play the lute stop in the treble from the upper keyboard while playing the farthest unison in the bass from the lower keyboard or vice versa.
Marking: 1) (on batten above upper keyboard) JOANNES COUCHET FECIT ANTVERPIAE

2) (initials in rose) IC

3) (serial number on back of name batten) st/34
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. 95-100, ill.

Makers of the Harpsichord and Clavichord 1440-1840. Donald H. Boalch and Charles Mould, 1991, Oxford University Press. Oxford, 1995, pg. 274.

Written by. Ruckers: A Harpsichord and Virginal Building Tradition. Cambridge University Press 1990. Cambridge, 1990, pg. 272-273.

"Keyboard Instruments." Summer. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin (1989), Vol. 47, No. 1, pg. 25, ill.

Written by, Honorary Editor Maurice Byrne. "The Acoustics of the Harpsichord: Response Curves and Modes of Vibration." The Galpin Society Journal (1985), vol. XXXVIII, pg. 58.

"Musical Instruments in The Metropolitan Museum." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin (1978), Vol. XXXV, No. 3, pg. 36, ill.

Historical Pianos, Clavichords and Harpsichords. N. E. Michel, Publisher. Pico Rivera, CA, 1970, pg. 105, ill.

Musical Instruments of the Western World. McGraw Hill Book Company. New York, Toronto, 1967, pg. 118-119, fig. 37, ill.

Keyboard Instruments in The Metropolitan Museum of Art: A Picture Book. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1961, pg. 22-23, fig. 10, ill.

Catalogue of the Crosby Brown Collection of Musical Instruments: Europe. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1904, vol. I, pg. 81.

Catalogue of Keyboard Instruments. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 0, pg. 89,91, 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. 81-82.