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

#71
SteveM wrote: 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) -

Far from being a red herring I think it is significant, especially in relation with the Adarga in relation to pointing to a shared Spanish connection _ I think Aragon in relation to the legend of St George in the Aragonese victory over the saracens and conquest of Valenci at the Battle of Puigi - the model for the depiction of Alfonso's victory over the pagans in his Book of Hours, a subject of early Spanish playing cards re: knight of swords? One repeated in our deck under discussion
Steve,
Thanks - a summary opinion of the material. But I'm still confused - "dates are too early for tarocchi -- it could be imperatii type deck" but with "a shared Spanish connection - I think Aragon in relation to the legend of St George in the Aragonese victory over the saracens."

So in your opinion is the Rothschild derived from an Imperatii deck that was originally created in Aragon, invested with St. George symbolism, as a means of triumphal celebration for their victory over the Saracens? Is this a reason that Imperatii decks might also have been known as triunfo (in the Spanish at least)? Moreover, would said deck be conceived with the full knowledge that the Saracens played with such cards, and thus used "their" medium against them? I think the enigmatic St. George (in place of Apollo) on that Apollonio cassone would support your St. George argument, as a vestige of a more explicit, earlier program (where St. George is integral to the symbolism of conquest).

I'd also like to see the argument for how Spain was supposedly producing tarot, pre-1440, if someone holds that position.

BTW: This is a bit later, but there are notable Spanish humanists in Florence ca. 1440, Fernan Perez de Guzman (1377-1460) and Juan de Mena (1411–1456), but the influence is decidedly from Florence to the Spaniards (for their bios see Medieval Iberia: An Encyclopedia, edited by E. Michael Gerli). Mena was in Florence 1441-42, and wrote the Dante-inspired Labyrinth of Fortune when he returned to Castile (1444) which called for the reconquista, with inspiring Spanish exempli populating the planetary realms of 'Fortune'. Guzman was in Florence 1439-1440 (before returning to Seville), and befriended the likes of Bruni (having some of his Latin works translated into the easier to read Tuscan) but especially Manetti, who dedicated his Parallel lives of Seneca and Socrates to Guzman (rededicated to Alfonso of Aragon in 1450), dedicated his De illustriubus longaeius and a translation into Latin of Guzman’s autobiographical apology, Apologia Nunnii, to his (estranged) father, as well as a laudation of Guzman’s mother Dona Ines de Torres, all around 1440.

Phaeded

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

#72
Phaeded wrote: Thanks - a summary opinion of the material. But I'm still confused - "dates are too early for tarocchi -- it could be imperatii type deck" but with "a shared Spanish connection - I think Aragon in relation to the legend of St George in the Aragonese victory over the saracens."

So in your opinion is the Rothschild derived from an Imperatii deck that was originally created in Aragon, invested with St. George symbolism, as a means of triumphal celebration for their victory over the Saracens? I
IMO it is more probably a tarocchi deck than an imperati, and if so the 1420s (suggested date for Ponte as artist) is far to early:

St George and Spanish/Moor shields suggest to me a Ferrarese/Aragon connection, thus post-1444:

The Knight of Swords shows a Saracen defeated (imo, at the hands of the Aragonese, in accord with similar theme to be found on a couple of early Spanish playing cards, one from 1400, other c 1500, based on the Battle of Puigi, and upon which the Alfonso's Book of Hours Battle was modeled) :

The Knight of the one recognised d'Este deck shows the converse : not a defeated Saracen, but a victorious Aragonese knight (his shield bears the insignia of Aragon, and he tramples a defeated enemy (not necessarily a saracen) beneath him) _

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

#73
A Victorious Knight of Aragon tramples a defeated enemy (d'Este tarot, Ferrara) : a defeated Saracen/Grenadien knight (Rothschild - Ferrara/Florence?)
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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Re: Giovanni dal Ponte (1385-c.1437) & the Rothschild cards

#74
SteveM wrote: IMO it is more probably a tarocchi deck than an imperati, and if so the 1420s (suggested date for Ponte as artist) is far to early:

St George and Spanish/Moor shields suggest to me a Ferrarese/Aragon connection, thus post-1444
Thanks for the clarification Steve. And I follow the Ferrarese/Aragon argument.

However, with Guzman in Florence in 1439-40 and Mena there 1441-42, and Florence definitely producing trionfi in the late summer of 1440, then those two represent a most direct means of tarot diffusion to Spain, where they both shortly went back to.

By the same token, Ferrara was seemingly an early if almost simultaneous adopter of trionfi, so that city could have just as likely been the means of diffusion. But your argument clearly points to Aragonese details in Ferrara (a Spanish[by way of Naples?] influence), and a later point in time than 1440 ("post-1444"). So there is still the possibility of a Florentine invention imported into Aragon (and/or Naples), where it gets repackaged to suit Spanish interests (Saracens, etc.), which then gets exported and adopted by ally-through-marriage Ferrara. One should also note the likelihood of Naples over Catalonia at this stage, however, as there was a lull in humanism activity in Aragon proper once Alfonso left there in 1432 and never returned (Jeremy Lawrence, "Humanism in the Iberian Peninsula", in Anthony Goodman & Angus MacKay (eds.), The Impact of Humanism on Western Europe. 1990: 232).

There is also a third conduit for the diffusion of tarot to Naples: Alfonso of Aragon and his principal advisor Inigo d'Avalos were captives in Milan following their naval defeat at Ponza (1435, released in 1436), and d'Avalos was a frequent recipient of correspondence from Filelfo (once in Milan), as well as of literary gifts (e.g., Odes 2.6, 3.3, 3.10, 4.8 and 4.10). I find Ode 4.10 the most interesting as it must date from 1452 when Filelfo petitions d'Avalos to persuade Alfonso from joining the war on Venice's side, and rhetorically chalks up at least some of the madness as due to letting the "bad" planets direct matters:
....most hoped for Inigo d'Avalos....Why should we always tremble before fierce Mars, uncertain Phoebe [moon], and that cold and sorrowful old man [Saturn]? May kindly Apollo, Jupiter and Venus return. Why do dire stars threaten these lands with so much lightning? (tr. Robins, 2009: 281


d'Avalos's c. 1449 medal by Pisanello (an artist who, incidentally, who also connects Naples to Ferrara):
Image


Presumably only the good stars shone down on d'Avalos' domain, as depicted on the medal reverse (larger image; and as medals were especially given between humanists and their patrons, Filelfo would likely received this before his 1452 Ode, which seems to utilize the astral imagery on the medal):
Image

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

#75
mikeh wrote: Wikipedia does say that dal Ponte spent time in Asissi and Rome, citing a Dutch art history site; what they cite is difficult for me to figure out, but it does not seem to be anything recent. I have found nothing suggesting either place elsewhere. Some of his work did end up in collections in Rome, but surely that doesn't mean anything. He doesn't seem to have been anywhere except Florence.
Thanks, that you looked for this. I didn't found anything, too.
Since Antonio later, after dal Ponte's retirement or death, c. 1437, starts showing up in his own name in 1439, it is very likely that the later one is the same as the earlier, and also the one who shows up as a card maker; Franco thinks 99% likely.

Whether he learned card making from dal Ponte is not clear. To what degree Antonio di Dino's artistic style resembled dal Ponte's of 1425 is also not clear. I would think that he would have followed the style that was popular in his own time. Whether he did the cards in c. 1425 as part of dal Ponte's workshop is also not clear. Perhaps tha art historians' putting a question mark regarding the artist but not the dating reflects these concerns. He would have been under dal Ponte's supervision then and part of his workshop. And since there is no work we can positively say was Antonio di Dino's so as to compare styles, there the issue remains. It does not matter that dal Ponte is not mentioned in any documents as a card maker. These were luxury cards and may well, as Fiorini suggests, have been done in conjunction with a contract to make cassoni but simply not valued in the same order of magnitude as them, or were an afterthought, and so not mentioned.
The prices for cards made for Antonio di Dino never went very high (as the Ser Ristori cards), as far we know them.
In the usual price politic of the silk dealers he was chosen as the artist for the middle class decks (5 soldi), Antonio di Simone got higher attention (9-10 soldi). But for Simone we don't have Trionfi cards, and for Antonio di Dino the cards have occasionally the value of around 24/25 soldi.
If Antonio di Dino wasn't securely not "Antonio di Dino Canacci", there is not much reason to assume a great artist.
Nonetheless, possibly of crucial importance in the oldest development of the Trionfi cards, as he possibly opened a lower price category around these 24/25 soldi (5 possible Trionfi decks in 1441, one possibly in 1445).

Likely we get no better material, if not other account books of traders of playing cards come to the surface.
Huck
http://trionfi.com

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

#76
Another possible remnant of an association between Knight of Swords and Saracens maybe in the Bolognese Tarocchini, with his curved sword?
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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Re: Giovanni dal Ponte (1385-c.1437) & the Rothschild cards

#78
Thanks, Huck (added later: I meant two posts back, but other people posted while I was posting). To me the Rothschild cards look more expensive than that.

I have been thinking about Steve's points (back even further). As usual, I am forced to do more investigation. For a dating of the Rothschild for 1444 or after, Steve argues somewhat as follows:

1. St. George is a major saint in Ferrara and Aragon but not Florence.

2. The tortoise shell shield is a Moorish shield, so those with it are Moors, who are the enemy of Aragon.

3. Aragon became important in northern Italy mainly with the Este-Aragon marriage of 1444.

4. The faces when compared to dal Ponte show a different artist, possibly Antonio di Dino.

So the cards, while probably made in Florence, are done in relation to the Este-Aragon marriage of 1444.

Against 1, I would argue that while St. George may not have been a patron saint of Florence, that sculpture by Donatello attracted enormous attention. Dale Kent (Cosimo de' Medici and the Florentine Renaissance, 2000, p. 61) cites the 1406 diary of a wine merchant who, describing the winner of the joust ("one of Sforza's men") after the victory against Pisa, spontaneously compares him to St. George, simply as a model of male virtue, as in Donatello's statue, which wouldn't be sculpted for another decade. When it was, then:
The grace of this figure captured the imagination of all Florence, particularly of those who admired a virile beauty, like the young man said to have found in Donatello's statue an ideal substitute for a live beloved. However, the figure of Saint George, symbol of the victory of good over evil, had long been a feature of the commune's celebratory procession for the feastday of Saint John the Baptist.
The card, however, is influenced by a different St. George, that done by dal Ponte for an altarpiece probably also in Florence. Notice especially the horse's head.
Image

The style of the body of the knight is similar to that of the man nearest us in a drawing by dal Ponte, as Bellosi pointed out.
Image


Point 2 above is certainly true. However the Moors were seen as a political enemy everywhere in Italy, and Aragon's fight against them had universal support. It was not only Christianity defeating Heresy, but evidence of God's favor with Roman Christianity vs. Byzantium. The tortoise shell motif was known via the "Moorish" cards; these, while probably based on an Aragonese model, were of unknown popularity and manufacture elsewhere. "Andy's playing cards" (http://l-pollett.tripod.com/cards77.htm) suggests, based apparently on the apparel, that they were fairly common throughout a wide area. In fact in the Fournier museum in Spain they are called "Italy 2", about which Andy says:
Despite the museum's catalogue reference of this deck is Italy 2, it may come from anywhere within a wide area, now corresponding to Spain, northern Italy, southern France, Switzerland, and south-western Germany. It was found in Seville, and the only country where the same composition is used is Spain, but some scholars claim that the cap featured on the ace of Coins is consistent with a north-eastern Italian origin, while others identify the clothes worn by the courts as German.
...
The cavalier of Swords is also a Moor; note the pointed cap and the shield, both in the fashion of the Saracens, although the blade of the sword is not curved. A cavalier of Swords from the mid 1500s, wearing more generically a Moorish turban, is also found in the German Playing-card Museum of Leinfelden, and even among the patterns still in use traces of this personage can be found, giving enough evidence that this used to be a rather common subject.
One manifestation of the shields, but without tassles, is a painting by Starnina (died c. 1413) mentioned by Fiorini. Ross posts an image of this "Battaglia tra Orientali" (Battle between Orientals) with a good discussion (http://www.tarotforum.net/showpost.php? ... stcount=69).
Image

Ross at the above link argues that the shields were a "tradition among cardmakers", not specifically linked to Starnina and dal Ponte:
It could well be that the Rothschild artist intended to portray this figure as a defeated Saracen (giving us an opportunity to interpret the St. George-like portrayal of the Knight of Batons as slaying the Saracen dragon), and it could well be that the artist was drawing from a tradition known through Aragonese cards and/or artistic convention; but given that such a tradition did in fact exist among cardmakers, and the differences in the style of the two printed cards and the painted one, it seems to me unnecessary to posit a direct link of the Rothschild to the work of Gherardo Starnina, through Giovanni del Ponte.
Regarding "Moorish" features in cards, Ross is merely reinforcing Andy. That is enough for my point. There are other things tying Starnina with dal Ponte. If there was a tradition, one extending to Starnina and either through him or independently to other card makers in northern Italy (Ross does not say "in northern Italy", but that is the area in question, not Aragon), that is enough to be able to say that the Moor-Christian motif in Italy is not tied particularly to Ferrara or Naples. There is even enough interest in Moors in Florence before 1413 to stimulate a fairly expensive work of art on the theme (a cassone panel, I think; it may also be later, but if so probably by someone other than Starnina). The paper of the "Moorish cards" has apparently been dated to c. 1400, according to Ross. [Added later: the curved swords of the Bolognese cards that Steve showed may be a remnant of this wide diffusion of "Moorish" cards.]

Against point 3, I would argue that there were undoubtedly numerous commercial ties of the cities of northern Italy, including Florence, with Aragon, as well as artists' going from one place to another, such as Starnina in Valencia before 1401. There was also Aragonese rule in Sicily, a major producer of silk, ever since the Sicilian Vespers of 1284. Also, of course, Aragon was a center of interest and hope for Christians vs. Muslims in Roman Catholic Europe generally. Added later: a relevant example of commercial ties is that of Ristero with Aragon, given by Huck at viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1163&start=10#p18996.

4. Against dal Ponte's authorship of the cards, Steve agrees with Ross's argument about faces. This argument is an illusion based mainly on a selective choice of faces. He says that Giovanni's faces are uniform in shape, unlike those of the cards. Below, from Ross's article, the bottom group of 14 faces are from 3 known dal Ponte works; the top group of 9 are from the 9 cards.
Image

Notice, however, that Ross picks both men and women for the cards, but only men for the works of Giovanni. In fact it was a late gothic convention to make the faces of young women oval and those of men (except perhaps very youthful men) and older women rounder. Giovanni followed that convention; see e.g. the Virgin in https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/ ... _circa.JPG, and several similar others.

Ross also says that Giovanni's faces all have long noses, unlike the cards. If you look at a variety of paintings by Giovanni, you will see that this is not a uniform generalization; there is in fact a variety of sizes (see below). If longer noses predominate, that may be because many are religious paintings in a Jewish setting at a time when the banking families wanted Jewish moneylenders to be admitted to the Florence, as a source of revenue in a type of lending, pawnshops, that the families had no interest in. Jews in fact first entered in 1427, according to Tuscan Jewish Itineraries, with three pawn shops, "a move which marked the beginning of the Jewish community in that city" (p. 143). Such a setting would not apply to the cards (or to figures in the art not imagined in a Jewish milieu, such as angels).

Image


Ross says that beards are drawn differently, too. In Giovanni's work, this feature varies, but there are enough examples in his work of the "cursive" style of the cards (see above and below). We also have to allow for the smaller size of the cards and that they were not expected to be viewed in contemplation but as objects in a game. The artist might have spent less time on them, or assigned some details to an assistant.

Image


Several of the faces on the cards have quite a striking similarity to faces in dal Ponte's work, e.g. St. Anthony Abbot and the Emperor (detail reproduced from Bellosi):
Image


A valid difference that Ross points to is in the ears, which we actually only see in two of the cards. The ears on these cards are mere circles, whereas Giovanni's are well formed. Here we have to allow for the smaller size of the cards, to which the artist's "cursive" style had to adapt. He didn't generally do works that small, as far as anybody knows. The circles may have been an experiment, or he wasn't being paid much and didn't want to take the time, or perhaps it is a detail drawn by an assistant or his partner. That is a problem with works of art: a shop has more than one artist. There remains enough similarity to say at least that it is at least closely related to dal Ponte's style of c. 1425, i.e. before he started being influenced by the more naturalistic style of Masaccio (for which see the catalog essay on dal Ponte's styles).

There are also other positive arguments for c. 1425 and dal Ponte that art historians Bellosi and Fiorini have pointed to and which would seem to be the basis for the dating and tentative attribution given by the editors of the Nov. 2016 catalog.

Finally, I cannot understand why people cannot see how dissimilar the two Emperor cards are. The Rothschild Emperor simply faces forward, creating an image that is essentially flat, with no attempt to create an illusion of three-dimensionality. The CVI Emperor is at an angle to the picture plane, neither parallel nor perpendicular, giving depth to the scene. The same is true of the small figures next to him and the platform on which they sit or kneel. The contrast between light and shadow in the Emperor's robe adds to the effect. Even the scepter is tilted toward us. These elements, part of the revolution in painting that occurred in Florence starting in the later 1420s and in full bloom by 1440, are quite lacking in the Rothschild.
Image

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

#79
Well ...

I cannot take part in these iconographic details, I don't trust too much this sort of argument. Anyway, the triumphal show of Alfonso in 1423 had a fight between moors and Christians as the major theme.

The 9th card, belonging (likely) to the deck, but not to the Rothschild cards, shows a rather deranged knight, probably the loser of a fight. This would fit with Alfonso's political demonstration, which ended in the case of 1423 without success.

Aragon was rather advanced with cards ... if Starnina could make progress in Italy with Spanish style, Spanish style might have come by itself with Alfonso, with an accompanying Spanish artist?

From the Ser Ristoro document 1434 we have the condition, the Antonio Serristori surely wasn't an artist, but a merchant. He had also a business in Barcelona and in Valencia and Sevilla he had trading partners. I didn't find big connections to art from his side. It's curious, that just his firm got an art commission from Ferrara. It only makes sense, if one assumes, that he got this opportunity by chance from his merchant activities.

I add some lists to the Ser Ristoro thread, which document the Spanish connections in 1431.
... see ..
viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1163&p=18996#p18996
Huck
http://trionfi.com

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

#80
Huck wrote:Well ...

I cannot take part in these iconographic details, I don't trust too much this sort of argument.
Certainly, I agree one should avoid giving them too much weight :)
mikeh wrote: The card, however, is influenced by a different St. George, that done by dal Ponte for an altarpiece probably also in Florence. Notice especially the horse's head. (It is turned further to see other side of neck, but head is similar)

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?
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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