The Trinity College harp


The decoration on the Trinity College harp is comparable to the decoration on the Queen Mary harp in both overall scheme and fineness of execution. However the specific motifs used, and their style of carving, are in most cases really quite different.

Unlike the Queen Mary, the decoration on the Trinity harp had until now never been fully published; closeup photographs were not widely available, and the designs are very worn and so difficult to see. Also, on some parts of the harp there are superimposed layers of decoration which can be difficult to seperate out. And actually I think the artistic style of a lot of the decoration on the Trinity College harp is really quite intense and busy, which makes it hard to work out what is going on in the plethora of lines and curves.

The main resources for understanding the decoration include Robert Bruce Armstrong's 1904 publication, The Irish and Highland Harps. I also have in my collection a photo postcard from the early 20th century which shows a lot of interesting detail. There is a set of closeup photographs available from Digital Resources and Imaging Services, Trinity College Dublin, which were taken by Dr. Paul Mullarkey, though these don’t cover the entire harp.

In 2013, I drew the decoration of the forepillar and published it here, the first time the Trinity pillar decoration scheme had ever been published. Now for November 2015, I have drawn the decorative scheme of the neck of the harp, and published it here. This is the first time the neck decoration scheme has been published.

Simon Chadwick