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Art case pianolocked

  • Laurence Libin

Extract

Term for a piano, the case of which (often including its legs) is highly decorated by such means as carving, marquetry, painting, gilding, and so on. The term is generally applied to 19th-century and later pianos of unique, customized appearance but not to fancy but uniform series instruments. Occasionally, pianos of unusual shape are considered art-case types. Pianos lend themselves to decorative treatment because they present large, acoustically inactive surfaces, and often function as domestic furniture representing the taste and status of their owners; extraordinary decoration usually implies elite status. Old harpsichords and modern replicas frequently bear artistic decoration outside and in, notably on the soundboard and underside of the lid and sometimes extending to imaginatively designed stands. Such visual features, which can include inscribed mottoes and family or makers’ insignia, often have symbolic content that further distinguishes the instruments and their owners. Early pianos tend to be simpler in appearance due to the fashions and economics of their period and place, although some destined for noble and royal households are ornate: for example, a Zumpe & Buntebart square designed by Robert Adam in ...

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Galpin Society Journal