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Triple harp
  • Triple harp
    Richards, John, born 1711 - died 1789
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Triple harp

  • Place of origin:

    Wales (Made)

  • Date:

    About 1740 (Made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Richards, John, born 1711 - died 1789 (Made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    carved and planed sycamore frame and ribs; planed pine belly.

  • Museum number:

    W.24-1918

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The Welsh triple harp has no pedals but is fitted with three rows of strings, the two outside ones tuned identically and diatonically (i.e. in a major or minor key), and the middle one chromatically. The instrument is said to have been made by John Richards of Llanrwst (1711-1789), Wales' leading harp-maker and player during the 18th century. It belonged to Augusta, Lady Llanover (1802-1896), a leading patroness of Welsh harpists and a champion of the Welsh triple harp.

Physical description

"A high-headed harp with back of nine ribs of sycamore, similar to 16/1 [triple harp by David Evans, Museum no. 1740-1869], though much less elaborate. Slightly rising belly of two pieces of pine, undecorated, with six small soundholes and the string holes shod with iron staples. The post is undecorated. The neck terminates in a rudimentary scroll." Anthony Baines, Catalogue of Musical Instruments in the Victoria and Albert Museum - Part II: Non-keyboard instruments (London, 1998), p. 77.

Place of Origin

Wales (Made)

Date

About 1740 (Made)

Artist/maker

Richards, John, born 1711 - died 1789 (Made)

Materials and Techniques

carved and planed sycamore frame and ribs; planed pine belly.

Marks and inscriptions

J.R.
J.R. is painted three times on the neck.

Dimensions

Height: 194 cm Height of harp's post, Width: 71 cm maximum width of belly, Depth: 71 cm

Object history note

This instrument originally belonged to Augusta, Lady Llanover (1802-1896), a champion of the Welsh triple harp.

Descriptive line

Triple harp, sycamore frame and ribs, pine soundboard, by 'J.R.' (possibly John Richards of Llanrwst), Welsh, about 1740.

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

Anthony Baines: Catalogue of Musical Instruments in the Victoria and Albert Museum - Part II: Non-keyboard instruments. (London, 1998), p. 77
Rachel Ley: Lady Llanover and the Triple Harp. (7 pages) (www.llgc.org.uk/fileadmin/documents/pdf/Rachel_ley_s.pdf)

Labels and date

TRIPLE HARP
Welsh; about 1740, with the initials J.R

Non-Keyboard Catalogue No.: 16/2

Originally, the harp had a single row of strings tuned to a diatonic scale. A second row, which provided extra notes, was often sandwiched between two that were tuned normally and in duplicate, hence the term "triple harp". Such an arrangement was developed in Italy and Spain towards the end of the sixteenth century, and used in Wales until the 1890s.

It has been suggested that "J.R." stands for John Richards, harpist to Queen Charlotte.

W.24-1918

Given by Lady Llanover. [pre September 2000]

Production Note

The initials J.R. are painted on the neck of this harp, and were claimed by the donor, Augusta, Lady Llanover, to stand for John Richards.

Materials

Sycamore; Pine

Techniques

Carving; Planing

Categories

Musical instruments

Collection

Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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