The Altani Family Tree
- Place of origin:
- Materials and Techniques:
copper and engraving
- Credit Line:
Presented to the V&A by Dr W L Hildburgh
- Museum number:
- Gallery location:
Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F, case EDUC, shelf 9, box G
This is an engraved copper plate. Engraving is an intaglio process, a term derived from an Italian word meaning an incised design. In the intaglio process the printing surface is sunk beneath the areas that are to remain blank. The lines are cut into the metal using a burin, and can be identified as engraved by the way they swell and taper to a point at the tip. The ink is applied to the plate with a dabber or roller, and forced into the grooves and pits. The surface of the plate is then wiped clean. To take an impression a sheet of paper is laid on the inked plate, and together they are submitted to sufficient pressure to drive the paper into the grooves so that it picks up the ink.
The copper plate depicts a family tree of the Counts of Salvarolo, a Venetian family. The central trunk shows the descent of the family from eldest son to eldest son down the main stem of the tree and brothers and cousins in the branches. Only the male line is shown. At the base of the tree is a two-headed eagle bearing the family arms, and either side of it the family's attributes - on the right a tree and various objects symbolising devotion and learning such as the hats and staffs of bishops and cardinals and books, mathematical and musical instruments. A medallion showing the winged lion of St Mark, the symbol of Venice, is depicted. The cannon, flags and drums point to the family's prowess in war. A palm tree, representative of victory, is depicted on the far left. This is probably the engraved plate for a family tree produced for the 'Memoria sopra la famiglia de' Signori Altani, conti de Salvarolo', published by Enrico Altan the Younger, Count of Salvarolo, in 1717.
Engraved copper plate showing the family tree of the Altani family along with illustrations and crest. The image on the plate is of a family tree with a central trunk showing the descent of the family from the eldest son to eldest son. The names of the brothers and cousins are in the branches. At the base of the tree is a two-headed eagle bearing the family arms, and either side of it the family's attributes; on the left a cherry(?) tree and various objects relating to the family - the hats and staffs of bishops and cardinals, books, mathematical and astronomical instruments. Hanging from the staffs are a medallion showing the winged lion of St Mark, the symbol of Venice and another showing the Immaculate Conception. On the right of the plate are instruments of warfare. A palm tree is depicted on the far right of the plate. The plate is missing a portion of the image in the top left hand and bottom left hand corner.
Place of Origin
Materials and Techniques
copper and engraving
Marks and inscriptions
ARBOR QVA SURGENS PANDIT SE ALTANA PROPAGO
Inscription in the scrollwork at top of the copperplate
Inscription at the base of the tree
Height: 30.8 cm, Width: 40.7 cm
Object history note
This is probably the engraved plate for a family tree produced for the 'Memoria sopra la famiglia de' Signori Altani, conti de Salvarolo', published by Enrico Altan the Younger, Count of Salvarolo, in 1717.
Historical context note
The Altani were Counts of Salvarolo, residing in Portogruaro, in the province of Venice.
Engraved copper plate. Family tree of the Altani family along with illustrations and crest, Italy, 1717.
Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)
Victoria and Albert Museum, Department of Engraving, Illustration and Design and Department of Paintings, Accessions 1926, London: Board of Education, 1927.
Books; Body armour; Palm trees; Mitres; Measuring devices; Rosary; Cardinal's hat; Cannonballs; Terrestrial globes; Chaplet; Alligator; Lion, winged (symbol of Saint Mark); Cannons (artillery); Scientific instruments; Staff, pastoral; Processional cross; Crozier
Arms & Armour; Hats & headwear; Images Online; Metalwork; Prints; Tools & Equipment; Printmaking techniques
Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection