This project focuses on a virginal made in 1640 attributed to the famous Antwerp maker Ioannes Ruckers. The instrument in the collection of the Rijksmuseum, on permanent loan from the Royal Antiquarian Society, has undergone various structural and decorative alterations and is no longer playable. In an international collaboration with the Rijksmuseum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Netherlands Institute for Conservation, Art and Science (NICAS) and many others, a wide array of techniques such as digital X-ray, CT-scanning, Macro-XRF, Multi-Spectral imaging, Dendrochronology, Proteomics, 3D scanning etc. is used to meticulously analyze and document the instrument and its decoration. Combined with the study of historical written sources, this data is then used to make several reconstructions of the virginal in its presumed original state, replicating the materials, tools and techniques used in the 17th century, a form of experimental archeology. The resulting reconstructions improve our knowledge of early modern instrument making and will be used for historically informed performance and educational purposes.

Undecorated reconstruction
Reconstructed virginal workbench and lathe at Museum Speelklok Utrecht
Researchers at Rijksmuseum
Printing decorative papers at Museum Plantin Moretus Antwerp
Ma XRF of Ruckers lid at Rijksmuseum Amsterdam
Detail of reconstructed soundboard decoration
Digital X ray of Ruckers virginal
Cutting a keyboard
CT scanning Ruckers virginal at TU Delft
CNC milled stone mold and lead cast rose

Reconstruction of the 1640 Ioannes Ruckers Virginal in the Rijksmuseum Amsterdam

project team
Manu Frederickx, Frank Hollinga, Mané van Veldhuizen, Tamar Hestrin-Grader
1.10.2018 – 31.08.2023
historical instrument making, harpsichords, experimental archaeology, technical art history, musical instruments, historical woodworking, painting, printmaking, material analysis