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Pedal harp
  • Pedal harp
    Naderman, Jean-Henri, born 1735 - died 1799
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Pedal harp

  • Place of origin:

    Paris (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1785 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

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

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Carved giltwood and painted pine, with metal mechanisms

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    On display at the Horniman Museum, London , case B []

Jean-Henri Naderman (also spelt 'Nadermann') was born in Fribourg , Switzerland, in 1735 and died in Paris in 1799. In 1778 he was appointed facteur de l' harpe ordinaire or harpmaker in ordinary, to Queen Marie-Antoinette of France (1755 - 1793). The queen played the harp and helped make it hightly fashionable in the salons in Paris, which would help explain why there were as many as fifty-eight teachers of the harp in Paris by 1784. In such surroundings, lavishly decorated examples like this one would have been highly appropriate and desirable. This instrument is fitted with crochettes, right-angled hooks, which were operated by foot-pedals and raised the pitch of each string by one semi-tone, a popular device during this period.

On loan to the Horniman Museum.

Physical description

Back of seven ribs painted black, with a border of simulated gold beads. Pine belly painted with swags of flowers, musical trophies and a shepherdess in a landscape in the Boucher style. Garlanded pillar richly carved and gilt, with a winged mermaid at the top, whose formed tail is plaited down the front of the pillar. At the base, two triton-babies blowing horns: they have gilt tails, but their bodies and faces are a natural skin colour. The neck is also richly carved with floral scrolls and gilt. The plate covering theb ling rods of the mechanishm is missing. Single action by crochettes.

Place of Origin

Paris (made)


ca. 1785 (made)


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

Materials and Techniques

Carved giltwood and painted pine, with metal mechanisms

Marks and inscriptions

'JH.Nadermann / à Paris'
H.Nadermann in Paris.
Anthony Baines, in Catalogue of Musical Instruments in the Victoira and Albert Museum (London, V & A Publications, 1998), pp. 79 - 80, refers to H.Nadermann, but the initial on his printed label found on the inside of a harp (Museum No. 425-1884) is a mongram made up of a dotted J and an H. The spelling ranges from 'Naderman' to 'Nadermann'.


Height: 160 cm

Object history note

This instrument was bought by the South Kensington Museum for £4 - 10 - 0 (£4.50). Its previous provenance remains unknown.

Descriptive line

French, 1776, 9, by H.Nadermann.

Tuning pin cover (formerely known as fragment of a pedal harp name board), French, 1785-89, giltwood, by H. Nadermann. Formerly FWK.LOST.424:1

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

Anthony Baines, Catalogue of Musical Instruments in the Victoira and Albert Museum (London, V & A Publications, 1998), p. 79.
de Bellaigue, Geoffrey. Engravings and the French Eighteenth-Century Marqueteur - II. The Burlington Magazine. July 1965, vol. 107, no. 748, pp. 357-363

Labels and date

J. H. Nadermann, French, after 1785
Inscribed H. Nadermann a Paris
Giltwood. Decorated with musical trophies.

Non-keyboard instrument: 16/6

Jean Henri Nadermann (1735 - 1799) was appointed harp maker to Queen Marie Antoinette of France in 1778. In collaboration with the harpist J.B.Krumpholtz, Nadermann worked on a series of harps with improved resonance, a version being played by Krumpholtz's wife before the Académie des Sciences in Paris in 1787.

The harp had a single action by "crochettes" . 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.

4449-1858 [pre September 2000]


Giltwood; Pine; Metal


Carving; Painting; Gilding; Carving; Joining

Subjects depicted

Shepherdess; Mermaid


Musical instruments; Furniture; Woodwork


Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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