COLLECTION: Musical Instruments

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Harp

1793
Origin: England, London
H: 53 3/4"; OW: 26 3/4"
Spruce, maple, iron/steel, composition ornament
Gift of Dr. J. Temple Bayliss and Mr. W.M.F. Bayliss, Jr.
Acc. No. 1988-429
Seven-pedal, single action harp (crochet mechanism) of conventional late eighteenth-century design with painted soundboard.

The object is a small harp constructed of wood. It measures 54 1/8 inches in height from the pedal box to the crown and approximately 25 1/5 inches at the widest point. There are four iron alloy feet attached to the bottom of the pedal box through which seven iron alloy pedals project; four on the right side and three on the left side (if one were sitting at it ready to play). The soundbox is constructed from eight pieces of wood giving a somewhat faceted appearance on the outer side and has been covered with a veneer of quartered sugar maple. Five holes ranging in diameter from 1 inch to 1 1/4 inches can be seen on the back face of the soundbox. The inner face of the soundbox has four pairs of circularly arranged holes which bracket a central rib. The rib has been gessoed and gilt and has 35 holes in which pegs would secure the strings. Fifteen of these holes have pegs; eight of these are replacements. At the top of the soundboard, beneath the knee-block is a gilt "banner" which reads: "_____/FROSCHLE LOND(INI)/FECIT". The soundboard has been painted with various floral motifs and a landscape at its base. On the neck there are 35 holes with matching pegs (two are missing) and corresponding hardware for securing and tightening the strings. A missing panel, or other decorative covering, on the right side of the neck leaves the action plates and linkage exposed. A rosette of gilt compsition measuring 2 1/2 inches in diameter is visible on the left side of the crown and an impression of what would appear to be an identical rosette can be found on the right side of the crown. The forepillar, which appears to be beech, is fluted and has, at its base, leaf designs composed of gilt composition. The top of the pedal box in this area is also decorated with gilt composition floral ornamentation. The remnants of a gilt leaf can be seen at the top of the forepillar. It also appears to have been made of composition. The harp has been varnished overall and particularly heavily on the soundbox. Two applications are evident, the most recent layer being a pale straw color whereas the earlier application is more amber colored.
Provenance:According to family tradition, this harp has been in the Thornton family since the eighteenth century. The first owner is believed by the family to have been (Ann) Butler Brayne Spotswood Thompson, Gov. Spotswood's wife. However, given the time period of the maker, it is more likely that the harp came into Virginia during the last quarter of the eighteenth century and was acquired by the family at that time, most probably by Ann Thompson Thornton or Elizabeth Thornton Dunbar. The history of the harp between approximately 1850 and 1922 is uncertain, but it is thought that the harp remained in the Dunbar house in Falmouth, VA, until discovered by Duff Green, a friend of the family, about 1922. According to family tradition, Mr. Green brought the harp to "Fall Hill," ancestral home of the Thorntons. At that time, Ann Taylor Bayliss and her twin, Bessie Taylor Robinson, were living there. When Ann returned to Ireland she took the harp with her. After her death the harp remained in Ireland but eventually returned to Virginia about ten years later and was owned by Major William Murray Forbes Bayliss until his death.
Mark(s):Signed in four places: on soundboard, neckblock, outside of pedal box, and inside of soundbox.

Details of marks: Signed on soundoard, at top: ""Froschle Londini Fecit;" at the bottom of the neckblock: "G. Froeschle/1793;" on the bottom of the outside of the pedal box, "George Froeschle;" on the inside of the soundbox, on the center rib,"George Froeschle."