"Exquisite" harp from more than 200 years ago bought by Herschel Museum of Astronomy

By Culture24 Reporter | 20 August 2012
A photo of a large, intricately-carved beautiful 18th century harp inside a music room
© Herschel Museum of Astronomy
A harp ordered by a fashionable Parisian more than 200 years ago has gone on display in the room where pioneering astronomer and composer William Herschel once taught pupils to play.

The Cousineau carving – described by curators as an “exquisite” single action pedal harp – has become the focal point of the music room at the Herschel Museum of Astronomy following a campaign to buy the instrument, which was commissioned by Mademoiselle Henriette Peyrot-Magenest in 1795.

It is decorated in Rococo style with scrolling leaves, flowers and garlands and a soundboard ornamented with delicate classical arabesques.

Herschel and his sister Caroline came to Britain as professional musicians, funding their passion for astronomy by giving lessons and performances.

He became the Director of Music for Bath during the 1760s, just as the city’s status as a fashionable spa was peaking.
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