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  • Place of origin:

    Paris (made)

  • Date:

    1787 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Naderman, Jean-Henri, born 1735 - died 1799 (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Carved and painted pine, oak, sycamore and birchwood

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Europe 1600-1815, Room 2a (Mirrored Room)

Jean-Henri Naderman (1735–1799) was one of the leading harp-makers in Paris of his day, and he supplied the Royal Household with his instruments. This harp was made in 1787 for a certain Mme de Binet (née Honteloup) of Dieppe, possibly as a wedding present, and was fitted with a series of holes and shutters in the back of the sound box. These were part of a short-lived device, invented in 1785 by the harpist Jean-Baptiste Krumpholtz (1740–1790) so as to vary the volume of the harp. Not only was this harp fitted with the latest mechanical gadget, it was also highly progressive in its decoration. The figure with an Egyptian headdress was carved on it more than twenty years before the vogue for all things Egyptian became widely fashionable at the time of Napoleon’s military campaigns in Egypt.

Physical description

'Back of seven undecorated ribs, five of oak, two sycamore. The five soundholes in the back can each be closed by a shutter, the five shutters opened and closed together by a link, now missing, which was connected to one of the eight pedals. Pine belly, painted with doves, vases of flowers and tripod perfume-bearers amid musical instruments (trophies taken from Delafosse's Sixth Livre de Trophies d' Amour et de Musique, p.3). The handsomely carved pillar and neck are in plain birchwood, and at their junction is a scroll carved with leaves and a female head in Egyptian head-dress'.

Anthony Baines, Catalogue of Musical Instruments in the Victoria and Albert Museum, Part II. Non-Keyboard Instruments (London, 1978), p.79.

Place of Origin

Paris (made)


1787 (made)


Naderman, Jean-Henri, born 1735 - died 1799 (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Carved and painted pine, oak, sycamore and birchwood

Marks and inscriptions

Harpe ARenforcement à sons prolongez à sons ondez ou echo réitérez et à sourdinne l'invention / de Mr Krumpholtz executée par H. Nadermann depuis l'année 1785 AParis.
Reinforced harp with prolonged and wavy sounds with repeated echoes, and a damper invented by M. Krumpholtz in Paris.
Inscribed on the neck.

JH NADERMAN / Mtre. Luthier Facteur de l'harpe ordinaIre du Service de la Reine. Rue Argenteiul Butte / St. Roch. a [sic] Paris 1787. 17
J.H.Naderman [sic], Master Luthier and maker of harps ordinary in the service of the Queen, Rue Argenteiul Butte St. Roch in Paris, 1787.
Printed label with a garland of leaves as a border. The date 1787 inscribed by hand.

M. de Binet née Honteloup / à Dieppe
Mme de Binet (nee Honteloup) in Dieppe.
Inscribed on the inside of a detachable piece of wood, the other side of the tuning mechanisms.


Height: 1680 mm, Width: 510 mm, Depth: 800 mm

Object history note

Restrung and cleaned by Mr Morley, 1963.

Descriptive line

French, Paris, 1785-95, by Jean-Henri Nadermann

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Anthony Baines: Catalogue of Musical Instruments in the Victoria and Albert Museum , Part II. Non-keyboard instruments, p. 79.

Labels and date

[Label text by Peter Thornton]

Pedal Harp
French (Paris); after 1785
By H. Nadermann, one of the leading harp makers in Paris at the time

It is fitted with a new device (holes with shutters at the back) intended to produce a swell-box effect, invented by Krumpholtz in 1785. Note the use of an Egyptian motif to decorate what is not only a fine musical instrument but also a piece of fashionable Parisian furniture - at a date, incidentally well before Napoleon's invasion of Egypt which was to give special impetus to the use of Egyptian ornament. The painted trophies on the belly are after an engraving by J. C. Delafosse. published in his sixth 'Livre de Trophées d'Amour et de Musique'.

Museum No. 425-1884 [1980]

Production Note

Similar painted decoration by the same hand is found on other Parisian harps of the period, indicating that there was a painter to whom several of the leading Parisian harp-makers turned when they wanted their harps decorated. The same may be said of the cared decoration on the heads of such harps, many of which were clearly executed in the workshops of a carver who specialised in such work.


Oak; Sycamore; Pine; Birch


Carving; Planing; Painting; Varnishing

Subjects depicted

Trophies; Sphinxes


Musical instruments


Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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