Re: Giovanni dal Ponte (1385-c.1437) & the Rothschild cards

#41
SteveM wrote:Here is Ponte's Allegorical Impress with Stemma:
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Does anyone have published info on this 'allegorical impresa'? There are two Florentine family coat of arms with feline forearm/paws, neither of which perfectly matches the 'allegory' but perhaps the Morelli comes closest if you just switch out the 'volute' symbol at the top with a fleur-di-lys (possibly done as part of the allegory).

Morelli stemma:
Morelli stemma 1468.jpg
Morelli stemma 1468.jpg (9.93 KiB) Viewed 1197 times
The leopards appear as a bit of surprise (one would think the feline arms were lions, in accord with the Florentine marzocco), but a leopard famously appears with a wolf and lion before Dante enters the Inferno while in the 'dark woods'. All three animals symbolizing various vices, but Dante surely drew on this biblical passage prophesying the destruction of those who refuse to repent for their iniquities (so the animals were both a vice and the manner of one's comeuppance): "Wherefore a lion out of the wood hath slain them, a wolf in the evening hath spoiled them, a leopard watcheth for their cities: every one that shall go out thence shall be taken, because their transgressions are multiplied, their rebellions strengthened" (Jeremiah 5:6).

If the leopard keeps a city in line – and the same feline forearms are on the shield - then the animals must symbolize the merits of the family in question in policing the city: Florence, as denoted by the fleur-di-lys, in place of the usual Morelli device at the top. The gender of the two leopards (the left one has a mane) must signify the gender of the two figures floating in the sky above each (like illuminations of deities from Pizan’s Othea). If the left figure with mandolin is male it must be Apollo (often he’s depicted with a mandolin or lute in his competition with Marsyas, but these are usually later in date). The woman on the right with book could be prudence, but it would be odd not to pair her with another virtue, such as Justice. We’ll come back to that.

The winged old man on crutches is obviously Time. The man stands on a mask but the scrolling, scalloped veil-like textile is usually attached to a heraldric helmet, which the shield below also calls out for. Allegorical figures adorning a helmet were common enough, such as the cupid on the helmet in the Apollonio di Giovanni joust cassone (for the winner of the joust below). Why then a mask instead, hanging on what appears to be a heavily pruned vine or tree? The closest cognate I can find is the ‘[Sc]Ipeo’ from the Sola Busca where a robed, time-like figure seemingly consults a spiritello, in place of the mask, on a pruned tree/vine.
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Scipio famously – in Cicero’s Republic via Macrobius’ ‘Dream of Scipio’ commentary - saw the generations of Rome from his dream visit of the heavens. Is the mask then a dynastic symbol - like the stemma - to be borne by all past and future members of this Florentine family, protecting the city-state of Florence like the leopards? And what of the tree or vine the mask is attached to? It is arguably a pruned vine (hence its short stature) as the mask was often joined to putti or spiritelli in connection with classical imagery of the vine taken from sarcophagi, etc. Dempsey points out the spiritelli treading and gathering grapes on the base of Donatello’s Judith and Holofernes, a statue which connoted the same message of protecting Florence:
Donatello’s bronze reliefs for the base of the Judith and Holofernes, rather than comprising the subject of his sculpture, instead function, as do the spiritelli on the frame of the Cavalcanti Annunciation, as a kind of ornament in action that comments upon and enlarges his main theme. [Dempsey goes on to describe each of the three faces of the base featuring wine-making spiritelli in detail, and regarding a putto on the third:…] bestows a kiss upon a mask affixed to a stone block, its mouth fitted with a water spout. The empty mask (larva) signifies a deluded fancy of the sort drink can induce – a folletto, or empty follow, a mere scarecrow used to frighten small children and animals – and the relief thus summarizes Holoferne’s fate and its cause [beheaded while drunk].” [Charles Dempsey, Inventing the Renaissance Putto, 2001: 56-58]
The vine motif is also seen in Jesus metaphors when he says he ‘is the vine’ or the ‘new wine’, but in the Renaissance this was an opportunity to connect to classical pagan sources and Christianize them; Dempsey again:
[Christ is the vine] “of whose vine we are the branches, in union with whom we acquire the fruits of eternal life And in both the spirits of renewed life symbolized by the grape racemes are overtly expressed by the infant putti, whether interpreted as spiritelli, genii, or as the souls of Dionysian initiates….The vernacular meaning of spirit of course encompasses that of the soul, even though spiritello refers not so much to the human soul as it does to the natural spirit (pneuma) animating the vine itself, whether with regard to its nourishing substance or its inebriative powers. And as such, Quattrocento identification of the infant Bacchoi on Roman sarcophagi as spiritelli follows Virigl’s second Georgics, verses 362-96, where the poet writes of the care of the new vine. [ibid, 66]
So we have Apollo, Time and an unidentified female hovering over the stemma of a distinguished Florentine family committed to honoring its own genetic line and the honor of Florence, like leopards. Who then is the female? I believe Virgil is the key, as in that same work cited by Dempsey for the vine motif – Georgics, aka Eclogues – is the most famous passage of all in the 4th Eclogue: the Cumaean Sibyl’s prophecy, interpreted as a foreshadowing of Christ’s birth.
Now is come the last age of the Cumaean prophecy:
The great cycle of periods is born anew.
Now returns the Maid, returns the reign of Saturn [iam redit et Virgo, redeunt Saturnia regna]
Now from high heaven a new generation comes down.
Yet do thou at that boy's birth,
In whom the iron race shall begin to cease,
And the golden [age] to arise over all the world,
Holy Lucina, be gracious; now thine own Apollo reigns.
There you have it - Apollo on the upper left, happily reigning while playing music, the Cumaean Sibyl pointing to her book of prophecy in the upper right, and below them in the middle is Time-as-Saturn, returned god of the Golden Age, crowning the mask of the Morelli, whose generations will see to the protection of their own line and that of Florence.
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Phaeded

Re: Giovanni dal Ponte (1385-c.1437) & the Rothschild cards

#42
Huck: in your list supposedly showing Antonio di Dino's production in 1439, I did not see "ANT" in 1439, but only in 1440.

Huck wrote,
The problem with Giovanni di Marco is, that there is no evidence for his playing card production. We have more than 40 names connected to playing card production from Florence till 1462, but none of them is Giovanni di Marco or "del ponte".
Although he is much more researched than other people ... this should give reason to think about.
http://trionfi.com/etx-playing-card-producers-italy
Well, he probably would have only done luxury decks, and only on commission. He was an important artist, well connected to the wealthy and the Church. As you documented (viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1005&start=10#p14986) the cards were woodblock-printed first. Maybe that was done by one of the known card producers.

We are talking about the 1420s. Not much is documented then. The Antonio di Dino of 1439 or 1440 isn't documented then either. By the late 1420s he would have been old enough to have his own shop. Admittedly, he could have been part of dal Ponte's workshop before that period. In that case, we'd both be right, since I cannot distinguish between dal Ponte's personal work and that he liked to see in his assistants. But I see no reason to draw that conclusion, especially given the gap in time between 1425 and 1439.

I am not sure what your point is about "Nanni". "Giovanni" was a very common name. Probably "Nanni" would distinguish one family of "di Giovnani"'s from others. There's no indication that "Nanni" = "Giovanni di Marco". He wasn't called "Nanni" that we know of, either.

Re: Giovanni dal Ponte (1385-c.1437) & the Rothschild cards

#43
mikeh wrote:Huck: in your list supposedly showing Antonio di Dino's production in 1439, I did not see "ANT" in 1439, but only in 1440.
You had asked for 1439, and there you have an ADD ... but the ANT appears elsewhere on the list. This one ADD is the first entry to Antonio di Dino (full name).
Later (1440) an "Antonio" is noted, likely, cause the silk dealer did know then Antonio di Dino and preferred to write Antonio, cause that's shorter). But then Antonio di Simone appeared, and they returned to write Antonio di Dino. Then Antonio di Simone had disappeared, and they returned to write Antonio. Then Antonio di Simone returned again.
That's only my interpretation. This was a list created in the course of various years (and it likely didn't contain not only playing cards). Best you asked Franco, how the list was.
I think he had to sort out the single entries, when he found one and from this selection he formed "his" list. A big puzzle work. In the course of time, the writers change their habits a little bit.

It looks to me in this way. I remember, that Franco was sceptical about my interpretation.
Huck wrote,
The problem with Giovanni di Marco is, that there is no evidence for his playing card production. We have more than 40 names connected to playing card production from Florence till 1462, but none of them is Giovanni di Marco or "del ponte".
Although he is much more researched than other people ... this should give reason to think about.
http://trionfi.com/etx-playing-card-producers-italy
Well, he probably would have only done luxury decks, and only on commission. He was an important artist, well connected to the wealthy and the Church. As you documented (viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1005&start=10#p14986) the cards were woodblock-printed first. Maybe that was done by one of the known card producers.
Ortalli said so. I documented Ortalli's opinion to the point.
We are talking about the 1420s. Not much is documented then. The Antonio di Dino of 1439 or 1440 isn't documented then either. By the late 1420s he would have been old enough to have his own shop. Admittedly, he could have been part of dal Ponte's workshop before that period. In that case, we'd both be right, since I cannot distinguish between dal Ponte's personal work and that he liked to see in his assistants. But I see no reason to draw that conclusion, especially given the gap in time between 1425 and 1439.
If I read, that the cards were printed before, I get doubts, if these cards are really from the 1420s. I think the design, with which we play cards nowadays mostly in my region of Germany is called Berlin pattern, and it descended from a pattern called "Paris" c. 1780.
http://www.froja.de/karten/karten.php?menu_id=1_3
... it's quite a difference of time to 2017, roughly 230 years.

Does gothic style allow us to conclude on a production in the 1420s?
I am not sure what your point is about "Nanni". "Giovanni" was a very common name. Probably "Nanni" would distinguish one family of "di Giovnani"'s from others. There's no indication that "Nanni" = "Giovanni di Marco". He wasn't called "Nanni" that we know of, either.
Maybe I misinterpreted your problem with Nanni.
Huck
http://trionfi.com

Re: Giovanni dal Ponte (1385-c.1437) & the Rothschild cards

#44
Thanks for explaining who "ADD" is and the ambiguity of "ANT". I had not realized that Franco had a list of what the abbreviations were for immediately below the chart you reproduced. You hadn't reproduced these explanations.

And thanks for qualifying my statement that you had documented that the cards were painted woodcuts. It comes from Ortalli. Oddly the catalog blurb says nothing about that. But it was not a very thorough literature review. Here is the Knight of Swords? Is there some indication of woodcut lines? There are lines visible, but I can't tell how they got there.
https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-qFpc-eY4tTg/ ... rdsDET.jpg

Huck wrote
If I read, that the cards were printed before, I get doubts, if these cards are really from the 1420s. I think the design, with which we play cards nowadays mostly in my region of Germany is called Berlin pattern, and it descended from a pattern called "Paris" c. 1780.
http://www.froja.de/karten/karten.php?menu_id=1_3
... it's quite a difference of time to 2017, roughly 230 years.

Does gothic style allow us to conclude on a production in the 1420s?
Not necessarily the 1420s, as it persisted into the 1430s in Florence. But it was the new school that was quickly becoming fashionable, especially with the Medici and their followers. As they became dominant, the gothic style faded away. Moreover, even the gothic style borrowed from the new style. Dal Ponte's gothic liberal arts/virtues are gothic, but a gothic influenced by the new trends (liberal arts: http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-tC5XL6b8P7Q/U ... c+1435.jpg).

In your Paris-Berlin example, the key word is "descended". Your current cards are not the same as the 1780 cards from which they are descended, if only due to the printing process. But the one is copied from the other; a certain style popular then is popular now, whatever may have happened in between. The difference between 1425 and 1441 is greater. Renaissance-style images are descended from gothic images. It's the style that is different. For example, I put the Rothschild Emperor next to the CVI Emperor. The post-Masaccio CVI is descended from the pre-Masaccio Rothschild, which is gothic. People then were not interested in having things in an old style, unless it was really old, like from ancient Rome.
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Actually, I had my wife put these two together on her computer, because my version of the software had stopped working. (All I have is simple photo-processing software now.) She asked me what it was for. I said I was trying to show the difference between the two. She immediately said, yes, the one (the Rothschild) was pre-Renaissance--flat--the other (the CVI) was Renaissance--more of a 3-dimensional look to the figures.

It is certainly true that someone could do gothic if asked (and the commissioner promised not to tell anyone who did it, as it could ruin their reputation). But by the 1440s it was unfashionable. Uccello, who used all kinds of perspective tricks, was fashionable, and Masaccio's partner Masolino. Brunelleschi was fashionable. Donatello was fashionable, and painters tried to capture the look of his sculptures, and Ghiberti's reliefs, in two dimensions. It more likely that something done in the style of 1425 was actually done close to 1425.

That said, I do wonder if the cardmaker Antonio di Dino wasn't the same as the one in dal Ponte's Catasto of 1427 and 1433. Looking in Newbigin's index of people in the account books for the 15th century religious spectacles, some 15 pages at around 60 names per page, I could find nothing for "Dino" or "di Dino" at all. (Dino is short for "Bernardino", "Gerhardino", etc. "Marco", including a "Giovanni di Marco" was there, but rare--perhaps it would stamp a person as being from Venice, so a good reason to adopt a different name, I don't know.) If so, he may well have learned his trade from another person who did, occasionally, do painted cards, even if that person is not in documents as such.

Franco says (http://trionfi.com/etx-antonio-di-dino):
If possible, it is useful to understand, which the original profession of the maker had been: the simplest case is when we find a new cardmaker who is the son, or the younger brother of a known cardmaker. The case of Antonio di Dino is somewhat particular, because the first time that we find him in book 12792 he did not supply cards. He was then mentioned as a maker and supplier of abaci, or counting frames (l. 2r – April 1442). Later on, we find him indicated on one occasion as a "tavolacciaio", maker of tables (12793, 25r – 1449).
Is this Antonio di Dino the same person as the card-maker, or is it the carpenter? I cannot tell.

If there is a tendency of a trade being passed down to those younger, even journeymen in the workshop, then that speaks for Antonio di Dino's teacher also doing playing cards, at least occasionally. But then why would Antonio owe dal Ponte money? Or was it the other way around? I still do not understand.

Re: Giovanni dal Ponte (1385-c.1437) & the Rothschild cards

#45
mikeh wrote:
And thanks for qualifying my statement that you had documented that the cards were painted woodcuts. It comes from Ortalli. Oddly the catalog blurb says nothing about that. But it was not a very thorough literature review. Here is the Knight of Swords? Is there some indication of woodcut lines? There are lines visible, but I can't tell how they got there.
Are they definitely painted woodcuts ? I have a vague recollection of reading they were erroneously included among some early examples of woodcut collections, by over-enthusiastic collector/'experts' seeking to to push back timeline of woodcuts in Italy - but can't find that now - who has definitively identified them as woodcuts?
Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different.
T. S. Eliot

Re: Giovanni dal Ponte (1385-c.1437) & the Rothschild cards

#46
Some people buy a new computer in two years, others have them in use for 10 years and more.

What you said about the rapid style change might be true for the class of the "high artists", but it isn't naturally true for the (mostly) low class of the playing card artists.

It's right, that there are not "too many" Antonio di Dinos, but maybe a handful and that's enough to be confused.

Antonio di Dino made usually the middle class cards (5 soldi) for the silk dealers in the 1440s, Antonio di Simone got the higher price (9-10 soldi).
But occasionally Antonio di Dino made relative expensive decks (24-25 soldi). And he is in the later phase, when the Trionfi decks really become a big hit, the second named painter (January 1451) after Giovanni di Domenico (December 1449).
Before he is involved in the document of 1445 and in the 5 expensive decks (possibly Trionfi ?) of 1441.

In 1440 (in which the silk dealers mostly get their decks from ADD or ANT) we have as a sale ...
At 1440-02-06 a single deck is sold to "Gerardo di Pagholo e comp. Setaiuoli" (so another silk dealer) for 33 Soldi with the qualities "Grandi" and "Dorati". The producer of the deck is not known. The date is a half year earlier than the oldest Trionfi deck note from 1440-09-16.
... possibly also Antonio di Dino, possibly also Trionfi.

For 1437 we have ...
Simone di Ser Antonio Fazi (likely father of Antonio di Simone, who often worked for the silk dealers) sold 4 expensive decks for 20 Soldi each to the silk dealers at 1437-11-02. The note stands very isolated, as there are no records at all in 1433, 1434, 1435, 1436 and 1438 in the known account books of the silk dealers.


... that''s interesting. I searched for "Ser Antonio Fazi" (grandfather of Antonio di Simone, who painted a lot of decks for the silk dealers) and got ...

Priorista fiorentino istorico pubblicato e illustrato da Modesto Rastrelli fiorentino ... [Volume primo-quarto], Volume 1
1783 - 159 pages
https://books.google.de/books?id=GTmn9c ... 22&f=false

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This seems to describe a meeting of the priors in March 1409 and Ser Antonio Fazi seems to assist. The next meeting is 2 months later and it is then another notary.
The interesting part is "da Monte Varchi". Montevarchi is near Figline Valdarno ...

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... Giovanni dal Ponte - in contrast - was from Florence.

*******************

Monte Varchi appeared in Franco Pratesi's playing card articles:
http://trionfi.com/evx-arezzo-giglio-di-bettino

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... a running playing card trade in 1400-1408 ...
Huck
http://trionfi.com

Re: Giovanni dal Ponte (1385-c.1437) & the Rothschild cards

#47
SteveM wrote: Are they definitely painted woodcuts ? I have a vague recollection of reading they were erroneously included among some early examples of woodcut collections, by over-enthusiastic collector/'experts' seeking to to push back timeline of woodcuts in Italy - but can't find that now - who has definitively identified them as woodcuts?
I know only that, what the article says.
Huck
http://trionfi.com

Re: Giovanni dal Ponte (1385-c.1437) & the Rothschild cards

#48
I remembered who challenged Ortali on the idea that the cards were woodcuts that had been painted: it was Christina Fiorini, with Depaulis confirming. It is in footnote 3, p. 54, of her "I tarocchi della Collezione Rothschild al Louvre: nuove proposte di lettura" [The Tarot Cards of the Rothschild Collection in the Louvre: New Hypotheses], The Playing-Card 35:1 (Sept. 2006), pp. 52-63:
Ho potuto verificare personalmente la tecnica esecutiva delle carte, che non presentano traccia alcuna di incisione, grazie alla cortesia di Pascal Torres, conservatore presso il Cabinet Rothschild. Ringrazio per i preziosi consigli anche Alberto Milano e Thierty Depaulis che, dopo un recente sopralluogo presso la collezione del Lortvre, ha gentilmente confermato la mia ipotesi.

[3. I was able personally to verify the techniques of the cards, which do not show any trace of incision, through the courtesy of Pascal Torres, curator of the Cabinet Rothschild. Thanks to Alberto Milano for valuable advice and to Thierry Depaulis, who, after a recent inspection of the collection at the Louvre, has kindly confirmed my hypothesis.]
So apparently they aren't painted woodcuts.

Re: Giovanni dal Ponte (1385-c.1437) & the Rothschild cards

#49
Huck wrote
Some people buy a new computer in two years, others have them in use for 10 years and more.

What you said about the rapid style change might be true for the class of the "high artists", but it isn't naturally true for the (mostly) low class of the playing card artists.
Well, yes, my one and only current computer was made in 2001. But if my computer broke and some store found an unused, i.e. new, 2001 computer just like mine in a back room and wanted to sell it for the same price as a current computer, I wouldn't buy it. It's a fine computer, but doesn't fit the computer world of today. That was my point. (Don't ask me what I would buy. Probably not the latest model, but then I am not at the high end economically.)

In the next sentence you again are not addressing my point. I was referring to the Rothschild cards, which are high end. I have no idea whether dal Ponte made low-end cards, but I doubt it. The question was whether it is likely that they would have been of an outmoded style which as such the commissioner would find unsatisfactory. Since they were high end, I think it likely that in the 1440s the commissioner would not have been pleased with an outmoded, "medieval" style and so probably even Antonio di Dino wouldn't have dared to produce such a thing as a high-end product.

Re: Giovanni dal Ponte (1385-c.1437) & the Rothschild cards

#50
mikeh wrote:I remembered who challenged Ortali on the idea that the cards were woodcuts that had been painted: it was Christina Fiorini, with Depaulis confirming. It is in footnote 3, p. 54, of her "I tarocchi della Collezione Rothschild al Louvre: nuove proposte di lettura" [The Tarot Cards of the Rothschild Collection in the Louvre: New Hypotheses], The Playing-Card 35:1 (Sept. 2006), pp. 52-63:
Thanks Mike -- not sure if that is where I originally readit - but it confirms my recollection :)
Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different.
T. S. Eliot

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