This harpsichord, displayed in the Queen’s Drawing Room at Kew Palace, was made by the Swiss-born Burkat Shudi (1702-1773). He worked in London as an instrument tuner and maker. Shudi signed his instrument in pencil like an artist would mark an artwork, with a name, location and date.
A harpsichord is an instrument which looks similar to the piano but operates differently. When pressed, the keys of the harpsichord pluck a string whereas in the piano, the sound is produced by a hammer striking the strings. This harpsichord is made from a mixture of materials: oak, pine, walnut, brass and steel. Harpsichords often had two sets of keyboards which allowed for a rich sound.
King George III and Queen Charlotte had an enthusiasm for music and were keen harpsichord players. Newly married in the 1760s, they held weekly private concerts at St. James’s Palace. The harpsichord is most commonly associated with music of the Baroque period. George particularly liked the music of Handel.
Explore the Collections
This object is one of many items either on display or in store at Historic Royal Palaces. Click here to explore more >