Playing a Masterpiece
One of the most expensive pianos ever made on exhibit this summer with concert series
Steinway made the core, but the case of this grand piano comes from London, inlaid with oak, ebony, sandalwood, cedar, boxwood, ivory, coral, mother-of-pearl, copper, brass, pewter, and parchment. In 1997, it sold at a Christie’s auction for $1.2 million to the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, topping any price that had ever been paid for a piano, says Victoria Saltzman, the Clark’s communications director. (The record was broken in 2000, when George Michael bought John Lennon’s white piano for $2.1 million.)
The Clark’s piano earned its value through its craftsmanship, Saltzman says. It was designed by Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema for the music room of Henry Marquand, a Manhattan financier with Berkshire ties—he attended school in Pittsfield and married Elizabeth Love Allen, daughter of a prominent Pittsfield family. Alma-Tadema, a Victorian artist known for classical scenes, also designed Marquand’s music room.
On April 1, Jeewon Park will give a rare, invitation-only performance on the piano of music that Marquand’s guests would have heard. The Clark will hold an exhibit and concert series this summer to honor the piano’s later history, which included time at Broadway’s Martin Beck Theater.
Its parchment reveals signatures of musicians, actors, and composers, including duo Gilbert and Sullivan and Richard Rogers. clarkart.edu