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.
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.
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
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
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.
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).
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.
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):
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.