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1680s, in Bologna, Italy

Bologna Harpsichord

The harpsichord is a keyboard instrument that produces its distinctive sound by plucking a string when a key is pressed. The earliest harpsichord designs date from the late Middle Ages—well before the invention of the fortepiano in the early 1700s.

The “Bologna” Harpsichord was produced around 1680. Several paintings in the Venetian style were later added, along with the beautifully built and carved rococo stand. The use of the Japanese lacquer style in the paintings, evident in the brilliant red coloration, makes this perhaps the most ornately decorated harpsichord in the world.