Image permission and credit: Maas Gallery
Burne-Jones from an early age was interested in music and musical instruments. The first appearance of an Irish harp was in an illustration to Archibald Maclaren's poem The Neck, in his book The Fairy Family c. 1855.
An Irish harp appears in The Madness of Sir Tristram of 1862 ( Stained glass design) followed by a painted version. Burne-Jones commissioned a facsimile as a studio prop c.1866 which appears in an 1880s design "Erin" which he made for the Irish Industries Association c.1888.
In September 1859 Burne-Jones traveled to Italy in the company of Val Princep and Charles Faulkner, which makes it possibility that this drawing was made from a harp in an Italian collection.
This accurate record of an early example is unique in Burne-Jones oeuvre; it demonstrates his capacity for almost scientific observation.
This particular watercolour study of a harp and lot 24 of a lady with irises are from a collection of works which together in Burne-Jones's studio after his death. They appear to be works by various artist's and used as source material for details in The Sleep of King Arthur in Avalon (Museo de Arte, Po0nce, Puerto Rico). This large canvas was not complete when Burne-Jones died in June 1898, however other source material for this canvas appeared in the sale of 5th June 2003, Christie's king Street, Lot 26.