British Museum collections, £12.99
Height: 7340.000 mm
Width: 470.000 mm
PD 1904-7-23-1 cat.no. 109
Prints and Drawings
Robert Peril, The Genealogical Tree of the House of Hapsburg, colour woodcut
The Netherlands, AD 1540
Ferdinand Columbus owned an impression of this print
One of the most outstanding, yet little-known, woodcuts produced during the Renaissance, this print commemorates the genealogy of the House of Hapsburg. The tree comprises twenty sheets that were meant to be joined together and hung from a height, or rolled up and spread on a flat surface. Little is known about the printmaker except that he worked in Antwerp.
The tree itself begins at the bottom with King Pharamundo and ends with the Emperor Charles V, who was the Holy Roman Emperor (1519-56). He is shown seated about to be crowned. Above him are four Virtues: Justice, Prudence, Fortitude and Temperance.
An impression of this print was part of the now-lost collection of Ferdinand Columbus (1488-1539), son of Christopher Columbus. An inventory in Seville describes in careful detail 3,204 prints that once formed part of this outstanding library, which at the time of his death contained 15,000 volumes. Although Ferdinand's print collection has now vanished, the Seville inventory has allowed its partial reconstruction using other impressions of the prints from around the world.
M. McDonald, Ferdinand Columbus: Renaissanc (London, British Museum Press, 2005)