Foreign harps

The Barberini harp


Dated to c. 1635

Kept at the Museo Nazionale degli Strumenti Musicali, Rome, Italy

"Baroque Italian" design;
?84 strings

This instrument, nearly contemporary with the Cloyne, enormously tall (over 2 meters) and with astonishing gilded carved decoration, is surely the biggest and most lavish harp ever. It has three parallel rows of strings; two partial overlapping unison diatonic rows and a third central chromatic row. It features in a famous painting by Giovanni Lanfranco, "La Musica" of c. 1639.

a small photo of the harp is available on the Museum website.

Simon Chadwick