Detail View: The AMICA Library: Square Piano

AMICA Library Year: 
Object Type: 
Decorative Arts and Utilitarian Objects
Creator Name: 
Nunns, Robert
Creator Role: 
Creator Name-CRT: 
Made by Robert Nunns and John Clark
Square Piano
Title Type: 
Object name
Full View Open
Creation Date: 
Creation Start Date: 
Creation End Date: 
Materials and Techniques: 
Various materials
Classification Term: 
Chordophone/struck piano
L. of case perpendicular to keyboard 46 1/2 in. (118 cm); W. parallel to keyboard 87 7/8 in. (223.3 cm); D. of case without lid 14 3/4 in. (37.4cm); total H. 37 3/4 in. (95.9 cm); 3-octave span 19 in. (48.2 cm); L. of longest string 68 1/4 in. (173.3 cm); L. of shortest string 1 11/16 in. (4.3 cm); L. of c2 11 3/8 in. (28.8 cm)
AMICA Contributor: 
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Owner Location: 
New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 
Credit Line: 
Gift of George Lowther, 1906

This costly showpiece of Renaissance and Rococo Revival eclecticism, an obvious status symbol perhaps intended for display at New York's Crystal Palace exposition, elevated the reputation of the English immigrants Robert Nunns and John Clark, partners in New York since 1833; they had exhibited an equally ornate piano in London in 1851. Built on the scale of a billiard table, this massive rosewood instrument stands on elephantine legs surmounted by lush carved bouquets. Slips of mother-of-pearl, tortoiseshell, and abalone embellish the seven-octave keyboard. Within, a lacquered iron frame reinforces the case. The felt-covered hammers could have been made by machines invented by Rudolph Kreter, who assigned his patent to Nunns & Clark in 1853. At that time, some eighty employees, including members of the Steinway family, were producing about three hundred instruments annually at Nunns & Clark's factory in Setauket, Long Island.

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