Seeing as the heads are at different angles it is hard to compare them exactly -- both long/narrow? What? What is so distinctive do you find about the horse's head? Is it not that dissimilar for example to this one?
Yes, primarily the narrowness, like the head of a lizard. The white horse in Piedmont approaches that narrowness, but it is a side view rather than straight on or perpendicular to the picture plane. Added later: On the hand, the horse's head on the card is really badly drawn, I must admit, with the eyes at the very back, as though it were a bird with its beak. And the thick neck like a camel put below it, very awkwardly. On the other hand, the knight is nicely done, and much like dal Ponte's young man. It is as though the artist had a model for the man but not the horse. I find almost no attempt to draw a horse that way then. Even Leonardo had trouble getting it (https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/56 ... 88f278.jpg). Looking at photos of rearing horses, I'd say it may be an impossible position for a horse. Maybe horses weren't his specialty. Also, he had assistants and a partner. But the rider looks much like the dal Ponte drawing that Bellosi also compared the card to.
I think it more likely that it was a tarocchi along the lines of the CVI given the similarity of the Emperors, and think the dates are too early for tarocchi -- it could be imperatii type deck, but I think that a possibility driven more by wishful thinking than probability -- (to which add - Antonio di Dino, if we should think him the possible maker, is only ever listed as maker of Charte or Naibi di Triomphi - never imperatori) -
What maybe is relevant about their "similarity" is the lack of a suit sign for the Rothschild Emperor. For "VIII Emperors" we would expect an Emperor and Empress for each suit. However it might be that the gold ball is the suit sign for coins. It is much like the gold circle held by the Page of Coins. There is also a scepter. But that does not look the same as the suit sign for Batons. Still, we might wonder what an Emperor of Batons would look like--a scepter held in his right and a lance in his left? That would look odd, but possible. (Added later: or maybe it would be like the King of Swords that Huck posts at viewtopic.php?f=11&t=345&start=360#p19003, with imperial crown and globe but also the suit sign in the other hand, for every suit except coins.)
Still, the similarity does suggest, to some extent, a tarocchi.
Then there is the question of if it is "too early" to be a tarocchi. There are two considerations: what is "too early" for a tarocchi, and what is "too late" stylistically for the dal Ponte workshop.
On the side of dal Ponte, it may be that "c. 1425" is too early, unless the "c." has a rather wide range of 5 or 10 years. There is a firm date range, based on the surviving records of the commission, for the St. Benedict that I posted earlier with the squiggly beard, along withd other work in a chapel of St. Trinita (https://1.bp.blogspot.com/-7r7Xf3hBwmU/ ... 39det1.jpg
). It was commissioned 6 March 1429, and on June 13, 1432, it was to be completed by July 1432. The catalog says (p. 200):
La decorazione delle cappella Ficozzi (poi Umbardi) in Santa Trinita a Firenze, dedicata a san Pietro, fu eseguita tra il 1429 e il 1432. infatti commissionata il 6 marzo 1429 a Giovanni dal Ponte e al suo socio Smeraldo di Giovanni; i 13 giugno 1432 si sollecitano i due pittori a terminare il lavore, entro il mese successivo, motivo per cui è lecito supporre che si fosse ormai prossimi al termine del lavoro (cfr. Appendice documentaria, docc. IX, XIII).
[The decoration of the Ficozzi chapel (later Umbardi) in Santa Trinita in Florence, dedicated to St. Peter, was executed between 1429 and 1432. In fact commissioned March 6, 1429 to Giovanni dal Ponte and his partner Smeraldo di Giovanni; on June 13, 1432 the two painters are asked to finish the work within the following month, which is why it is permissible to sustain that they were now coming to the end of the work (see documentary Appendices, doc. IX, XIII).]
From the Appendices, here is Doc. IX (p. 229):
IX) ASF, Capitani di Orsanmichele (Quaderno di Ricordi ed Appunti scritto da Tommaso di Iacopo Bardi Provveditore della Società di Orsanmichele, 1428-1433) 62, c. 1
[6 marzo 1428 (1429)]
«A dì 6 di marzo proposto
Allogharono a Giovanni di Marcho dipintore e Smeraldo di Giovanni dipintore una chappella in Santa Trinita al lato della chappella maggiore di San Piero per pregio di fiorini 80 di come si conviene per l'aloghagione fatta per ser Giovanni di Bindo Chardi notaio della opera.» 9
[They allocate [?] to Giovanni di Marco painter and Smeraldo painter chapel in Santa Trinita to the side of the greater chapel of Saint Peter for 80 florins price as is fit for the allocation, done by Giovanni di ser Bindo Chardi notary of work.]
And Doc. XIII (pp. 231-2)
XIII) ASF, Capitani di Orsanmichele 62 (Quaderno di Ricordi ed Appunti scritto da Tommaso di Iacopo Bardi Provveditore della Società di Orsanmichele, 1428-1433), c. 35v [13 giugno 1432]
«A dì 13 di giugnio pro posto Domenicho di Lionardo
Deliberarono che Giovanni e Smeraldo dipintori debbano cominciare a lavorare nella cappella del maestro Paolo in Santa Trinita che sol sono più tempo fa a dipingnere a dì 16 d'appresso e averlla conpiuta per tutto luglio prossimo se non che [start 232] rendano e i d[anari] che n'[h]an[n]o avuti indietro o se no gravati.»
[On the 13 of june put before [?] Domenicho di Leonardo
They decide [?] that Giovanni and Smeraldo painters should start working in the chapel of Master Paolo in Santa Trinita only more [?] time is to paint to day 16 and below having it done totally July next if it is not [start 232], the money is not rendered that has been [held?] back or otherwise encumbered.[?]]
This looks like an extension of the work deadline to July, with no advance payment.
In addition: the drawing of the two young men (https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Lo7E67sO8cU/ ... i266-7.JPG
) is in the editors' estimate, "1425-1430". The men with the elongated hat (https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-Plh6vr3m4E0/ ... 42det1.jpg
) are "c. 1430". The predella with St. Anthony Abbot, so similar to the Emperor in the face (https://2.bp.blogspot.com/-vdsATkVbXqo/ ... -72det.jpg
), is "1425-1530". In allegorical art, the only paintings of the workshop similar in subjects to the tarocchi are the 7 virtues and 7 liberal arts, which are dated "1430-1435". So it is possible by stylistic and subject considerations to make the date of the cards, if by the dal Ponte workshop, extend to 1430-1435.
What is "too early" to be a tarocchi? The Catania paper has the dates 1427 and 1428 in the filler for two of the cards. DDD in 1996 said the tarocchi could be as early as 1410. Prince Fibbia died in 1419. The Marziano is 1418-1425, and Marziano was succeeded in his position by the father of a man who published a lengthy commentary on Petrarch's Trionfi.
There are considerations that suggests the 1428 marriage for the CY-type, if there was one (the banner on the tent, which could be Savoy, as the alternation of banners suggests among other things the union of two houses; also, Filippo finishing an illuminated manuscript of his father's, by a young painter who could easily have been prevailed upon to do cards). Surely 1430 is not too early in Florence, for an elite stratum of the population, and perhaps not including all 22 of the cards but only 14 or 16.
Added later: please note that I have added some thoughts at the beginning of this post.
Added next day: an addition to the part about emperors having suit signs. Thanks, Huck