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Design for an altar
  • Design for an altar
    Talman, John, born 1677 - died 1726
  • Enlarge image

Design for an altar

  • Place of origin:

    Britain (made)
    Italy (possibly, designed)

  • Date:

    c.1710 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Talman, John, born 1677 - died 1726 (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Pen and ink, wash and watercolour

  • Credit Line:

    From the collections of J. Talman and Francis St. John.

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level E, case Q, shelf 23

Design for an altar.

John Talman (1677-1726) was the son of the celebrated architect William Talman. From about 1698 he was employed by his father to help assemble material for his extensive collection of architectural drawings, prints and books. A keen traveller, he went to the Continent twice in search of acquisitions. He visited the northern Netherlands, France, Germany and Italy, and he made numerous watercolour copies of altarpieces and churches in Rome.

Talman was back in England in 1715. He was a founder-member of the Tavern Society, London, which later became the Society of Antiquaries, and he was appointed its first director. Like his father, Talman believed in the elevating purpose of art and in the use of art collections for the public good. Although his will indicates that he had wanted his vast collection (which contained over 32,000 prints and drawings), to go to Trinity College, Cambridge, he later changed his mind and instructed that it should be sold for the benefit of his children. A portion of the collection was nonetheless given outright to the Society of Antiquaries, who acquired further items from the auction in London on 19 April 1727.

This drawing is part of an album in the V&A collections that contain drawings made by Talman and other artists. Talman intended to publish it for the benefit and enjoyement of a wider public.

Physical description

Design for an altar mounted with a doorway on a separate sheet within one mount.

Place of Origin

Britain (made)
Italy (possibly, designed)


c.1710 (made)


Talman, John, born 1677 - died 1726 (artist)

Materials and Techniques

Pen and ink, wash and watercolour


Height: 7.5625 in, Width: 4.5625 in

Descriptive line

John Talman. Design for altar. British, probably after Italian original. c.1710

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Victoria and Albert Museum, Department of Engraving, Illustration and Design and Department of Paintings, Accessions 1937, London: Board of Education, 1938.


Pen and wash


Architectural drawing


Architecture; Drawings; Designs; Religion; Christianity; Places of Worship


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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