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85/372 Virginal, wood / bone / tempera, attributed to Vincentius de Taeggiis, Bologna, Italy, 1629. Click to enlarge.

Virginal by Vincentius de Taeggiis

This instrument is not only the oldest musical instrument in the museum's collection but also possibly the oldest keyboard instrument in a public collection in Australia. It is representative of the broad style of plucked string keyboard instruments common in several parts of Europe from about the fifteenth century until the eighteenth century that featured lid paintings as an integral part of their artistic expression. Its significance lies in these main attributes.

The instrument has a compass of 4 octaves with a short octave in the bass. The painting possibly dates from a later period being in an eighteenth century Italian style. A recent series of ultra violet and infrared images of the painting revealed repainting of some parts with the possible addition of a human figure to the group on the left hand side and to the front of the couple dancing.

Not a lot is known of the previous history of this instrument. It appears to have still been in Italian hands during the 1830s judging by an inscription on the instrument. Donald H Boalch in Makers of the Harpsichord and Clavichord 1440-1840 (Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1995) suggests that this virginals is probably the same as one by de Taegis that was a part of the Savoye Collection in Paris and was sold in 1924. By all accounts it seems likely that this instrument is the only existing example by this maker.

Vincentius de Taeggiis was a member of the religious order, the Servites of Mary in the convent of San Giorgio in Bologna. He was part of the household of Cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi, a nephew of Pope Gregory XV. According to existing records in the archive of the Servites of Mary in Rome there is no indication of the role he played in the household or whether he was as a carpenter, instrument maker or musician.


Object No.


Object Statement

Virginal, wood / bone / tempera, attributed to Vincentius de Taeggiis, Bologna, Italy, 1629

Physical Description

Rectangular wooden virginal with false inner/outer construction. The outer case is made of painted green pine and the instrument and mouldings are made of cypress, decorated with bone studs. The compass is 4 octaves E/CC to F3 with a short octave in the base. The inside lid is decorated with figures in a landscape, painted in tempera by a follower of Paul Bril (1554-1626), depicting hunting and fishing scenes and figures playing musical instruments (bass violin, cornett, hurdy-gurdy and harp).


Inscribed on inside lid in Renaissance Roman capitals: "F. VINCENTIUS de TAEGGIIS BONON ORDINs SERVOR. B.M.V. ANNO MDCXXIX".



200 mm


1500 mm


485 mm



Attributed to Vincentius de Taeggiis, Bologna, Italy, 1629.


Credit Line

Purchased 1985

Acquisition Date

28 March 1985

Cite this Object


Virginal by Vincentius de Taeggiis 2020, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 26 September 2020, <>


{{cite web |url= |title=Virginal by Vincentius de Taeggiis |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=26 September 2020 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}


This object record is currently incomplete. Other information may exist in a non-digital form. The Museum continues to update and add new research to collection records.