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'The virginal is in typical Northern European rectangular form with an integral case with lid and drop-front attached. The case walls, due to the nature of the decoration, cannot be measured but are at least of 15mm thickness. The case is covered without in leather, tooled and gilt with a border of floral scrollwork and small animals. The lid contains eighteen panels, worked in high relief in coloured glass, containing scenes from Ovid's Metamorphoses, each identified below with a brief title. These scenes are framed with strips of white enamel bearing floral scrollwork. The inner face of the drop-front is divided into five panels, each of which was probably originally set with enamelled plates that have a blue ground and floral motifs (the colours of which have decomposed). Three of these enamelled plates remain; the second and fourth are missing and have been replaced by crudely cut-out engravings of birds and butterflies pasted to the red ground of the wooden backing. Another enamelled panel, similar but containing a head of a woman among the scrollwork, is set above the keyboard. Surrounding all these panels and covering the entire keyboard is a decoration consisting of coloured glass rods, rosettes and sequins, and of small spirals of brass wire. The soundboard is covered with glass rod decoration and contains a rose of c.112mm diameter. Howard Schott, Catalogue of Musical Instruments in the Victoria and Albert Museum. Part I: Keyboard Instruments (London, 1985), pp. 43, 45. The eighteen panels are inscribed (upper row, from left): DAPHNÆ, ANDROMEDA, ACTEON, [missing], TRIONPHVS BACHI, NARCISVS, IO, IO IN VACAM, ARGVS (lower row, from left): TISBÆ, PIRAMVS, CORONIS, ATLANTIADES, DIANA, ARCADES, ERICHTONIVM, PARIS, BATTVS.

  • Date:
    ca. 1580-1600 (made)
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  • Collection:
    Victoria and Albert Museum
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  • Materials:Wooden carcase with stamped and gilt leather case. The inside is decorated with foliate and floral scrolls on plaques or frames of copper with partly enamelled silver overlays. Two of the panels on the drop-front seem to have lost their enamelled plaques, which have been substituted by cut-paper birds in the manner of Florentine pietre dure panels. Every internal surface not covered by these partly enamelled components is embellished with glass, mainly in the form of polychrome rods, whorls and florets. The exception is the inner face of the lid, which comprises eighteen glass relief panels, with glass titles, depicting subjects from the Metamorphoses, against backgrounds of faded red silk.
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  • Repository:Victoria and Albert Museum
  • Measurements:Length: 1523 mm, Depth: 430 mm, Height: 260 mm, Height: 415 mm lid when raised vertically, Depth: 420 mm body, Depth: 245 mm front flap when folded out, Height: 920 mm whole object