Harpsichords are shaped roughly like grand pianos. The sound is made by the action of the keys, which makes the quills pluck the strings inside the instrument. This example was made in 1681 by M. Vaudry, an otherwise unknown maker, in Paris. By that date Paris had become Europe's leading producer of luxury goods.
The harpsichord is perhaps the earliest dated French object to be decorated with Chinoiserie ornament. This was at a time when all things to do with China were becoming highly fashionable throughout Europe.
At one stage in its history this harpsichord had a box of organ pipes fitted to its front legs. It could thus be played as a claviorgan, a combination of a harpsichord and an organ.