Aeolian harp


Object Place: Probably United States


Length 74.8 cm, width 13.7 cm, height 10.6 cm (Length 29 7/16 in., width 5 3/8 in., height 4 3/16 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique


Not On View


Musical Instruments



Long rectangular body of wedge-shaped cross-section, with removable cover, made of pine throughout. Body and cover painted cream white with light green stripe along all edges. Center of cover painted with two white flowers and foliage. Round soundhole (diameter 43 mm) at center of soundboard. Two fixed bridges of ebony. Eight gut strings fixed to small iron hitch pins at one end, passing over bridges and fastened at opposite end to staggered iron tuning pins with rectangular heads. Cover has arched blocks at each end, forming four “legs” with iron pins to locate position on body, and forms wedge-shaped air passage when in place. Cover fits flush at hitch-pin end of body, but stops short of tuning pins. Painted white with green borders. Rectangular box, slanting top, with circular sound hole; strings and pegs. Cover with slanted sides has painted roses on top.


Handwritten in graphite pencil on underside of body: This belonged to my great grandmother Eliot, / given to me by Papa / May 13th 1883 / Sally Norton


Before 1829, Catherine Eliot née Atkins (1758-1829), who was married to Samuel Eliot (1748/9-1820), a distinguished Boston merchant and president of the Massachusetts Bank; 1829, by descent to her daughter, Mrs. Andrews Norton (Catherine Atkins Eliot, b. 1793), Boston, Massachusetts; before 1908, by descent to her son, Charles Eliot Norton (1829-1908), a professor of fine art at Harvard University; after 1908, by descent to his daughter, Sarah Norton (b. 1865), Boston, Massachusetts; 1912, gift of Sarah Norton to the MFA. (Accession Date: March 22, 2007)

Credit Line

Gift of Miss Sarah Norton