Upright Harp Piano

London, England, United Kingdom
Various materials
Case L. (perpendicular to keyboard): 74.5 cm (29-3/8 in.); W. (parallel to keyboard), excluding handles: 136.1 cm (53-5/8 in.);Total H. 196 cm (77-1/4); String L.: longest - 142.5 cm (56-1/8 in.), shortest ( 5 cm (2 in.), c2 (28.7 cm (11-3/8 in.);three octave W.: 49.1 cm (19-3/8 in.)
Credit Line:
Gift of Mrs. Greenfield Sluder, 1944
Accession Number:
  • Description

    The short-lived Euphonicon (from Greek, "sweet-toned") was patented by John Stewart in 1841 and manufactured under his supervision. Hand-painted designs and gilded brackets soften the industrial aspect of the solid iron frame. The Macassar ebony base encloses 3 soundboxes that replace a normal sound board. Tuning is by means of screw-threaded rods reached by a long wrench. The 82 double-strung notes are sounded by soft, felted hammers; the top 23 notes lack dampers and vibrate sympathetically. Damper and una corda pedals modify the tone. Decorated on all sides, the Euphonicon can be free-standing. Delicate scrollwork and carving belie its great weight. Similar harp-pianos (so called because of the exposed strings) were popular in America around 1860.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Marking: 1) (on front of harp): Steward's//Patent//Euphonicon
    2) (above keyboard, on plaque): Steward's Patent//Euphonicon//F. Beale and Co./Lion & Unicorn/201 Regent St.//London
    3) (on three stickers on back of sounding board): Euphonicon/invented by John Steward/Manufactured under his guidance by F. Beale & Co, 201 Regent St.//Anno 1843/No. _______
    4) (on middle sticker): J. Steward
    5) (marked on top lever key): FH
    6) (handwritten on back of metal frame above middle tone chamber) Euphonicon/Invented by J. Steward Esq;and manufactured by/Beale & Steward/201 Regent Street./London

  • References

    Makers of the Piano, 1820-1860: Volume 2. Oxford University Press. Oxford, UK, 1999, pg. 24.

    "Keyboard Instruments." Summer. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin (1989), Vol. 47, No. 1, pg. 49, ill.

    Keynotes: Two Centuries of Piano Design. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1985.

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History