Harp (cláirseach)

John Kelly (Irish, active 1726–1734)

Object Place: Ireland


Height 167.8 cm, width 78.6 cm, depth 33.4 cm (Height 66 1/16 in., width 30 15/16 in., depth 13 1/8 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Willow, brass

On View

Musical Instrument Gallery (Gallery 103D)


Europe, Musical Instruments


Musical instruments, Chordophones

Quadrangular soundbox (severely distorted from string tension). Sides and soundboard carved from single block of willow. Back of willow with two large circular soundholes, attached to soundbox with trenails. Sides of soundbox incised with scrolling foliage and flowers. Soundboard incised with three pairs of hexafoils. Strip of brass down center of soundboard, perforated for string attachment. Curved pillar of willow in T-shaped cross-section with scalloped edges and incised on front with thistle and tulip. Black, red, and white painted decoration. Pillar surmounted by carved head wearing crown. Neck of willow, with strips of brass along each side, perforated for tuning pins. Four strings attached to tuning pins in pillar. Tuning pins of brass. Exact compass unknown (thirty-seven strings).

Music: Carolan’s Draught and Loftus Jones by Turlough O’Carolan, about 1730 (performed by Ann Heymann on a cláirseach made by David Kortier, Duluth, MN, 2006)


Incised on pillar: MADE - BY / IOHN - KELLY / FOR / THE REVD / CHARLES / BUNWORTH / BALTDANI / EL / 1734


1734, made by artist for Reverend Charles Bunworth (d. about 1770), Rector of Buttevant, Baltdaniel, County Cork (Ireland); 1826, by descent to his granddaughter, Miss Dillon of Blackrock, near Cork; before 1854, by descent to his great-grandson, Thomas Crofton Croker (1798-1854); December 22, 1854, sold by Messrs. Puttick and Simpson, London, to Thomas Bateman (about 1821-1861), Lomberdale Hall, Derbyshire, England, where kept in a private museum; June 1893, sold by Messrs. Sotheby, Wilkinson, and Hodge to Francis W. Galpin (1858-1945), Hatfield Regis, England (lot no. 292); 1916, sold by Francis W. Galpin to William Lindsey (1858-1922), Boston, Massachusetts; 1916, gift of William Lindsey, in memory of his daughter, Leslie Lindsey Mason, to the MFA. (Accession Date: October 5, 1916)

Credit Line

Leslie Lindsey Mason Collection