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RCM 166 Harp-Guitar [Edward Light], London, c.1800 Inscriptions None Brief description Harp-guitar, a lute-guitar hybrid with seven gut strings Dimensions  : 832      : 417 : 325  : 138  : 474 Description Body of simplified lute-form with straight sides and curved tail. Coniferous front arched transversely. Soundhole with gilded oakleaf and acorn collar; inserted sunburst rose of wood and gesso gilded with central mask. Front outlined with scrolling neoclassical bands and anthemion ornament both sides of bridge. Back of flattened semicircular section with flat central stave between segmental side pieces; harp-style openings in central stave. All ebonised; back outlined in ‘panels’ with gold lines. Turned ivory tailpin. Pin-bridge with saddle. Neck and top-block in one piece but laminated horizontally from two layers; ivory frets. Tuning pins with square gilt heads, without shoulders, set out in V pattern below another sunburst Apollo head of gilded composition and gesso. Individual pillar nuts of ivory drilled, which press the string down between the tuning pin and the conventional nut. Commentary Invented in 1798 by Edward Light, and succeeded by his harp-lute-guitar, c.1800, harp-lute, c.1810–13, British lute-harp, 1816 (see RCM 284), and dital harp, 1819; the construction of the instruments was undertaken by professional craftsmen such as A Barry. Edward Light (c.1747 to c.1832), musician, teacher and composer, organist of St George’s, Hanover Square and ‘Lyrist to HRH the Princess of Wales’. For a time he was in partnership with Angelo Benedetto Ventura, who later produced instruments in competition with Light, culminating in the Harp Ventura. These instruments were designed for use by amateurs, succeeding the English guitar, and eventually gave place to the Spanish guitar and piano (see Grove 2001, v.14 p.696). Provenance Gift of Queen Mary, 1929 References Remnant 1978, p.42 Wells 1984, p.14

Harp-guitar, English, RCM 166

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Profile for Royal College of Music

RCM Museum of Instruments Catalogue Part III: European Stringed Instruments  

RCM Museum of Instruments Catalogue Part III: European Stringed Instruments  

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