In the painting titled "Song of the angels" (1881), the angel on the left is playing something that looks like a piano accordion:

enter image description here

(full resolution here; zoom in)

According to Wikipedia, by 1881 these instruments already existed. But I cannot find photos of early instruments, as the modern version is a bit different. I cannot find comments on the painting describing the instruments either. Any idea?


I think, given that the painting imitates mediaeval or similar styles (the bow on the angel's violin suggests this), it is likely to be a portative organ. The picture in the Wiki article is not very much like what is in the picture above, but this link from the article has examples in carving, sculpture etc which are more similar.

  • 1
    Thanks! That's definitely what it is. Consider this or this photo. Actually, that explain the greyish structure that rises from the organ (the pipes), up to the cheek of the angel. A traditional piano accordion should not have that structure.
    – luchonacho
    Nov 3 '18 at 11:00

I would consider this as regal instead, since the portativ is a pipe organ and I don't recognize any pipe or the volume to hide even small ones, while a regal just requires brass reeds. The bellows which can be seen are required for a number of different instruments.

  • what about the dark pipe-looking object, against the neck of the angel holding the instrument ? could that be a small organ pipe ?
    – Angst
    Nov 11 '18 at 20:50
  • It may be some kind of belt either to carry the instrument or the fix the bellows during transport or something completely different. I found a video of a quite small portativ here and while one could imagine the longest pipe also to be that dark gray thing, I see no way to hide the shorter pipes below the angels arm.
    – guidot
    Nov 11 '18 at 21:57
  • Ok, I found a copy of the paiting with better resolution here and it looks like pipes, but from looking at the paiting I'm unsure, how the depth fits to the angle with the viol being entirely before the keyboard.
    – guidot
    Nov 11 '18 at 22:06
  • I agree, it is odd that there is only seems to be one pipe, but it is level with the front of the arm of the angel with the lute, so there would be room for maybe two smaller pipes behind the one that is visible.
    – Angst
    Nov 12 '18 at 18:18

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