Genealogy Trees

When I first flipped through the March issue of Veranda, my eye was immediately caught by this gorgeous photo. Don’t you just want to grab a book, and curl up on that daybed? But what is truly spectacular, is that antique painting of a genealogy tree. It’s Italian in origin, which makes me sad that it’s now in the possession of a couple of Belgian designers (Alain and Brigitte Garnier), and not with the actual family. I checked their website, and no, the painting is not for sale – but a boy can certainly dream!



It’s probably no surprise that the original use of a family tree, in art, was to show the genealogy of Christ. Taken from the Book of Isaiah, it is referred to as the Tree of Jesse, and is a common theme in medieval, Christian art. Those who have visited Chartres Cathedral, outside of Paris, would have seen the ‘oldest, complete Jesse Tree window’ – which dates to the 12th century. Florentine artist, Pacino di Bonaguida painted this fantastic example, which is just down the hall from the David, in Florence’s Accademia di Belle Arti.



In 1635 Scotland’s famed portraitist, George Jameson painted this genealogy tree, which depicts the pedigree of one of Scotland’s most noble houses – the Campbell of Glenorchy family. The painting is part of the permanent collection of the National Galleries of Scotland. According to the museum’s website, “it is based directly on the medieval format of the Tree of Jesse, originally described in the biblical book of Isaiah, which shows the descent of the Messiah. The original Lord Campbell, Duncan Campbell of Lochawe, is depicted reclining below an elaborately fruiting cherry tree. The trunk is decorated with portraits of Glenorchy lairds, with Colin Campbell (who commissioned the work) second from the top and his potential heir above. The surrounding roundels further document the genealogy.”



My own family’s genealogical records aren’t nearly as fabulous – but if I came across a painting as beautiful as these, I would certainly take a page from the Garniers’ book, and hang it quite proudly.