Re: Depaulis's "Tarot in France before 1500"

#11
Hi, Mike,
mikeh wrote:I am wondering about another detail, namely, the little circles on the Tower card (then called "Fire" or "Arrow," referring to lightning-bolts). Of course hail fell in Italy as well as France, and circles are a natural way of portraying it, but there is the question of whether and where that was associated with destruction from on high in pictorial art before the Cary Sheet. If anywhere, I would expect them in art depicting the Apocalypse, based on the account of hail and fire falling from the sky.
Indeed. There are quite a number of English examples, some German, some Flemish, and so on. It was not just a natural way to illustrate giant hail, but the standard way in which it was depicted. This might show up on a picture of the First Trumpet, the Sixth Seal, the Seventh Vial, and of course there are the nifty examples pointed out by TImothy Betts from Alexander of Bremen's Commentary.
mikeh wrote:But I do not see little circles of hail in Italian art befoer 1500--in fact, I don't see them at all in Italian art.
How many Italian Apocalypse manuscripts have you examined?

Another question concerns immigrant woodcutters, particularly from Germany, who might bring certain motifs with them.

Best regards,
Michael

P.S. The attached image is from this site:
University of Cambridge, Digital Library
http://cudl.lib.cam.ac.uk/view/MS-MM-00005-00031/242
Alexander of Bremen's commentary was an elaborate allegory based on Revelation, and the image illustrates the Seventh Vial interpreted as Alexios I Komnenos. Betts referred to one illustrated copy of this commentary as Ancestor, claiming that the Tarot trump cycle was (largely) a reflection of such an Apocalyptic legend.
We are either dwarfs standing on the shoulders of giants, or we are just dwarfs.
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Re: Depaulis's "Tarot in France before 1500"

#12
Thanks for the image, Michael.

I don't know how to look for hail in Italian manuscripts, except through a Google search using "hail medieval Italian art" or "apocalypse medieval Italian art," first in Google Images and then in Google more comprehensively.
That's what I tried. I didn't come up with hardly anything. I suppose I should be looking in the data bases of individual libraries, like the one at Cambridge. But I was hoping someone else had searched more thoroughly, since a lot of people see that trump in terms of the Apocalypse (including me, as one example of destruction from the heavens). I am still wondering about Italian examples, German woodcutters or not.

Re: Depaulis's "Tarot in France before 1500"

#14
mikeh wrote:Thanks for the image, Michael.

I don't know how to look for hail in Italian manuscripts, except through a Google search using "hail medieval Italian art" or "apocalypse medieval Italian art," first in Google Images and then in Google more comprehensively.
That's what I tried. I didn't come up with hardly anything. I suppose I should be looking in the data bases of individual libraries, like the one at Cambridge. But I was hoping someone else had searched more thoroughly, since a lot of people see that trump in terms of the Apocalypse (including me, as one example of destruction from the heavens). I am still wondering about Italian examples, German woodcutters or not.
There's actually a very well-known example of (fiery) hail that was widespread in Italy, but not from Revelations. You'll accuse me of being Dante-centric (I guess I am at this point regarding tarot's origins), but it is the early illuminations for the Inferno, Cantos XIV-XVI. This is perhaps the most personal moment in the Inferno for Dante, for he meets his own intellectual master, Brunetto Latini, walking a circle in hell where fiery hail constantly rains down (a fierce academic debate continues as to why Dante placed his master in hell).

Inf. Canto XIV:
29 broad flakes of fire showered down
30 as snow falls in the hills on windless days.

Inf. Canto XV:
23 I was known to one of them who caught me
24 by the hem and then cried out, 'What a wonder!'
25 And while he held his arm outstretched to me,
26 I fixed my eyes on his scorched face
27 until beneath the charred disfigurement
28 I could discern the features that I knew
29 and, lowering my hand toward his face,
30 asked: 'Are You here, Ser Brunetto?'

The first below is Yates Thompson 36 f. 27 Prophecy of Brunetto Latini, c. 1445 (the Sienese exemplar made for King Alphonse of Aragon/Naples)
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Re: Depaulis's "Tarot in France before 1500"

#15
Phaeded: this is fire, not hail, and Dante likens it to snow, not hail. Nor does it look like hail in the illumination: it is is fire drawn to resemble snow.

I concede that if this illuminator were to draw hail, he would probably draw it in the form we see it on the Cary Sheet. But there remains the question of whether this episode in the Last Days was typically illustrated in Italy in the regions associated with the tarot. I still have no examples of hail pictured there before 1450-1500 (depending on how far back the Cary Sheet imagery goes). There were illuminated manuscripts of the Apocalypse, but I have not been able to retrieve scans of their illuminations. I have looked in a couple of books on illuminations about the Apocalypse, but they focused on Northern European ones. I suppose I could also look for illuminations of the Book of Job.

Ross: thanks for catching my error about the Cary Sheet being found in Milan. My memory was playing tricks again. It was only the Sforza Castle cards that were found there, although of course the two tend to be discussed one after the other. I have looked in various sources and found no source other than Cary himself, who collected cards from all over, including, according to the Beinecke, sheets from France.

Re: Depaulis's "Tarot in France before 1500"

#16
mikeh wrote:Phaeded: this is fire, not hail, and Dante likens it to snow, not hail. Nor does it look like hail in the illumination: it is is fire drawn to resemble snow.
You're downplaying the equally important if not primary attribute shown in the Tower trumps - fire (or the sun-as-fire).

Your own original musings:
I am wondering about another detail, namely, the little circles on the Tower card (then called "Fire" or "Arrow," referring to lightning-bolts). ...If anywhere, I would expect them in art depicting the Apocalypse, based on the account of hail and fire falling from the sky.

So the early users of Tarot called the card Fire and Arrow/lightning-bolt...so why hail on a card named as such? I will admit the two examples from Dante were clearly flames but we should go back to what inspired Dante - Exodus.

Fiery-hail (the hail simply giving the fire weight, making it more destructive, which is the meaning of this card - God's wrath/destruction) would have had its most obvious precedent not in Revelations (where the hail would be people-sized at 100 pounds each and omits the fiery component seen in tarot, Rev. 16:21), but in Moses calling down the seventh and final plague of fiery hail as God's wrath on the Egyptians.
Exodus 9:22 Now the LORD said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand toward the sky, that hail may fall on all the land of Egypt, on man and on beast and on every plant of the field, throughout the land of Egypt." 23Moses stretched out his staff toward the sky, and the LORD sent thunder and hail, and fire ran down to the earth. And the LORD rained hail on the land of Egypt. 24So there was hail, and fire flashing continually in the midst of the hail, very severe, such as had not been in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation.…
Detail of a miniature of the plague of hail (Exodus 9:22-25), Add MS 15277, f. 7r - See more at: http://britishlibrary.typepad.co.uk/dig ... xNOaU.dpuf
Padua, c. 1400
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This colored woodcut of the seventh plague of hail even combines the later tarot depiction of the sun with solar rays ("fire") with falling hail: 'Nuremberg Bible (Biblia Sacra Germanaica)', 1483.
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You're not going to find a closer match for the last card (the sun even has clouds - not the same Visconti Hours-style undulating clouds, but clouds nonetheless, to connote the presence of God in this case):
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An uncolored variation (couldn't find source, but looks contemporary to the Nuremberg example):
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So please explain how the Tower is not God's wrath again? Why did these artists think of that scene from Exodus for this card? It sure as hell wasn't some philosophical notion about "light" (and god knows what hail would have to do with light...unless we are in fact talking about fiery-hail, a well-known weapon of God's wrath).

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