Pedal Harp thumbnail 1
Pedal Harp thumbnail 2
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Pedal Harp

ca. 1780 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

The young Marie-Antoinette, who arrived in France in 1770 as bride to the heir to the French throne, was a harp player, and created a vogue for the instrument in Paris. The most sought after makers were Sébastien Erard (1752 - 1831), Georges Cousineau (1733 - about 1800), and Jean-Henri Naderman (1735-99), who may have made this instrument. All three of them worked closely with Jean Baptiste Krumpholtz (1742 - 1790), perhaps the greatest harpist of his day, to develop instruments. This harp is unsigned and has no date, but it is fitted with crochettes or right-angled hooks, operated by foot-pedals, which raised the pitch of each string by one semi-tone, a popular device during this period.


object details
Category
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Carved giltwood with painted soundboard, metal strings and <i>crochettes</i>
Brief Description
Pedal harp, possibly made by Jean-Henri Nadermann, France, ca. 1780
Physical Description
'Back of seven ribs. Fluted pillar with a florid Corinthian column surmounted by a cherub that now lacks an arm and its bow. The shape of the neck, with a small hump midway along, and the painting on the belly resemble the Nadermann Harp 16/5 [Museum No. 425-1885], but the carving of the scroll and base is different from that of the other harps. The removable plate covering the mechanism in the neck is plain for most of its length. Single action by crochettes.'

Baines, Anthony. Catalogue of Musical Instruments in the Victoira and Albert Museum. London: V & A Publications, 1998.

The soundboard is decorated with musical trophies and sacrifical altars.
Dimensions
  • Height: 30.7cm
  • Width: 23.9cm
  • Depth: 3.2cm
Measured closed - larger if open
Gallery Label
PEDAL HARP French, about 1780 Giltwood Non-key board catalogue No.: 16/11 The harp had the "crochette" single action. Hooks, placed near the tuning pins and activated by the pedals, nipped the string and shortened the playing length enough to raise the note by a semi-tone. 4087-1857(pre September 2000)
Object history
This object was bought by the South Kensington Museum in 1857 for £16. Its provenance is unknown.
Production
According to Anthony Baines in Catalogue of Musical Instruments in the Victoria & Albert Museum: Part II: Non-Keyboard instruments, p. 81, 'The shape of the neck, with a small hump midway along, and the painting on the belly resemble the Naderman Harp 16/5 [Museum No. 425-1885], but the carving of the scroll and base is different from that of the other harps'.
Subjects depicted
Summary
The young Marie-Antoinette, who arrived in France in 1770 as bride to the heir to the French throne, was a harp player, and created a vogue for the instrument in Paris. The most sought after makers were Sébastien Erard (1752 - 1831), Georges Cousineau (1733 - about 1800), and Jean-Henri Naderman (1735-99), who may have made this instrument. All three of them worked closely with Jean Baptiste Krumpholtz (1742 - 1790), perhaps the greatest harpist of his day, to develop instruments. This harp is unsigned and has no date, but it is fitted with crochettes or right-angled hooks, operated by foot-pedals, which raised the pitch of each string by one semi-tone, a popular device during this period.
Bibliographic Reference
Anthony Baines, Catalogue of Musical Instruments in the Victoira and Albert Museum (London, V & A Publications, 1998), p. 81.
Collection
Accession Number
4087-1857

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record createdMay 16, 2001
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