Harp Art in Washington D.C.!

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    We just got back from taking the kids to D.C. and what a shock to find this awesome portrait of Mrs. John Quincy Adams at the National Portrait Gallery, second floor, right side, in the room next to the huge statue of George Washington. The harp she’s playing looks just like the one Howard Bryan has for sale at his website!


    That’s my favorite gallery. I don’t think I noticed who the subject was, I was just said “Oh, harp!” One of the historic houses, I think it was Tudor House but might have been Dumbarton, has a harp in one of the rooms. I couldn’t make out the name on it and didn’t want to bother the guide to ask (only later did I find out that for things they don’t know off the top of their heads, there’s a notebook in each room they can use for more details on every object in that room).


    When I went to the National Gallery I ran smack into (well, not literally) a portrait of Eliza Ridgley ( don’t recall the artist) that is pictured in Harps and Harpists by Roslyn Rensch. I was so excited to see it up close and in person! I missed the other portrait you saw, though, because I had one hour to see the whole museum and after that I went straight to the modern art…


    She’s playing an Erard ram’s-head. I think there’s a reproduction of this painting in one of Roslyn Rensch’s books.


    I can’t believe I missed this one! When we went to the National Gallery (a whole different museum from the National Portrait Gallery) we got so bogged down in the Italian renaissance we had to race through the American side. Then when we got to the fountain area where “Night at the Museum 2” was filmed –you know, where the Jonas Brothers were cherubs?– my kids had to just sit for about 20 minutes and enjoy the vibe. Ah, well, this gives me a reason to go back!


    I think the harp in the Eliza Ridgely painting may be a 1700s Renault and Matelain made in Paris. There was one here some years ago at a local auction house. (I saved a picture of it from the auction catalog.) It was not in playable condition but was lovely and fascinating to see. Many years ago I saw the painting (which is huge) in D.C. and brought home a small print from the gift shop. It would have been great to have this little harp under the painting (just for looks, of course), but I couldn’t afford it.


    I love that portrait. (Let’s see if I can post it here.) Thomas Sully painted it in 1818, I think.



    Well, that didn’t work too well. If you click the link, remove the brackets and letters after .jpg and the image will appear.

    Here’s another try. I think this will work.

    Lady with a Harp


    Here’s a recent acquisition at the National Gallery of Art:

    David Triumphant, sculpture by Thomas Crawford

    David harp Goliath

    for more info:


    Yes! That one is in the basement with all the other sculpture. Thanks for finding the photo!


    You’re welcome.


    E-Bay has the print of “Lady with a Harp” for sale here. It would look wonderful in a studio.


    The Smithsonian Museum of American History also has Abigail Adam’s harp displayed in the section about First Ladies.


    Surely you mean Louisa’s harp?

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