Patrick Byrne, about 1794 - 1863. Irish Harpist

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Patrick Byrne, about 1794 - 1863. Irish Harpist Probably 1845
  • Scottish Art
Patrick Byrne was a famous blind musician from Ireland, who visited Edinburgh in the 1840s. He was educated at an academy in Belfast where blind people were taught to play the harp. One night he performed in a ‘tableau vivant’ at one of the costumed Waverley Balls, dressed as the elderly musician of Walter Scott’s epic poem ‘The Lay of the Last Minstrel’. Hill later wrote of this calotype: ‘The Harper, whose costume is made of a blanket and plaid shows how simply one might get up pictures of the old world.’ Byrne's instrument is one of the large wire-strung harps made by Dublin harp maker John Egan for the Irish Harp Society.

Glossary Open


The first effective version of photography, using drawing or writing paper for both the negative and the positive. The paper was sensitised with potassium iodide and silver nitrate, exposed and developed in gallic acid and silver nitrate.

Tableau vivant

French for 'living picture'. The term describes a striking group of carefully posed and costumed people, who remain silent and motionless as in a picture.

Calotype, Tableau vivant


  • Acc. No. PGP HA 457
  • Medium Calotype print
  • Size 20.30 x 16.40 cm
  • Credit Elliot Collection, bequeathed 1950