Foreign harps

The Estense harp


Also known as the arpa Estense.

Dated 1581

Kept at Galleria Estense, Modena, Italy.

"Gothic" design;
?56 strings, height 147.7cm

This instrument is 'Gothic' in form although not in style or decoration. It has two parallel rows of strings, though it is possible that it was originally a diatonic instrument, with chromatic pins added later. According to Ron Cook, it has buzzing bray pins fitted to every string (R. Cook, 'The presence and use of Brays', HHS Bulletin, summer 1998, p. 36) It is lavishly decorated with gold leaf and Renaissance painting all over. It was made in Rome by Giovanni Battista Jacomelli in 1581, for Alfonso II d'Este, duke of Ferrara. It has a full provenance since that time.

Photo at contrabassi.it

Simon Chadwick