Re: Pratesi on birthtrays, cassoni, Petr. mss. & parades (no

That's nice, Steve. I don't know what it shows, except that the Apollo and Daphne story was recurrent in 15th century art and literature, including imaginative constructions of playing card decks.

Another thing about the Dal Ponte (possibly) Triumph of Fame and the Stefano Apollo and Daphne is why I posted them" not as what the tarot came from, but as counter-examples to an argument that Franco got from some of his art historian sources. In relation to the tarot, the question is, why did the illuminated manuscripts and cassoni showing Petrarch's Trionfi only become popular after around 1440 and not earlier? One answer that I favor might be that it was precisely the proliferation of tarot cards after 1440 that led to the popularity of the manuscripts and cassone. Against that might be advanced the argument of the majority of the tarot historians that there was a shift in what was popularized in Florence, from voluptas to virtus, particularly heroic virtue, with a concomitant shift of major interest from Boccaccio, the proponent of love, to Petrarch, the proponent of heroic virtue, happening around mid century or a little earlier.

Franco starts by quoting Cecilia De Carli:
Towards the middle of the fifteenth century birth trays showed a change in the cultural situation that radically abandons the romantic idyll of virtus et voluptas present in the Gardens of Love, in Amorous hunts, in stories of the Ninfale Fiesolano or Teseida, whose main reference was Boccaccio. In its place we find Virgil, Homer, Petrarch, whose triumphs unfold the soul's progress from love to chastity, fame, plotting, in a sense, the new iconography of birth trays and chests, whose authors are the professionals lo Scheggia, brother of Masaccio, and Apollonio di Giovanni, with their respective workshops. (p. 29.)
Franco also quotes from the 2015 catalog of a cassoni exhibition in Florence:
The heart of the exhibition, however, is made up of the golden age of the painting of cassoni, that vast world which exploded the mid fifteenth century in Florence and also echoed in the words that Vasari dedicated to this production, recognizing its specificity and excellence, in the Life of Dello Delli. Petrarch took the place of Boccaccio, I Trionfi succeeded the Amorosa Visione, heroic themes of classical history and mythology widened the spectrum from Ovid moralized, effortlessly updating what had been the fashion all over Europe towards 1400. Through the domestic painting of the cassoni, myth and the classical heritage became shared history more and more familiar. (P. 20.)
And Paul Watson in his 1970 Ph.D. dissertation:
Most of the subjects popular during the first decades of the fifteenth century disappeared abruptly around 1450. There were no Gardens of Love, nor any of its variants, no Allegorical Chases, and no amatory romances of the type of Theseida and the Ninfale Fiesolano. No tales from the Decameron survived, with one significant exception. Boccaccio was replaced by Vergil and Homer, and by Petrarch, whose Triumphs limning the progress of the soul from love to chastity to fame, were almost a summary of the iconographic history of cassone painting.
However another scholar, Witthöft in 1982, puts the shift earlier, at around 1430, who brought up Bruni's call for virtu of the classical Roman sort in the context of the defeat of Florence by Milan in 1424 and :
The sudden appearance of classical subjects around 1430 can, in fact, be partly explained by these circumstances. For it is about that time that the first generation of men who were educated according to humanist precepts reached marriageable age.
That seemed to me closer to the truth, and for that reason I posted the "Dal Ponte?" cassone of the triumph of fame. In this framework, the Apollo and Daphne is the same, the triumph of virtue over love.

In fact the tarot deck, at least some of it, seems transitional in this shift. The Love card invariably reflects the chivalric ideals of Boccaccio as opposed to the power of love to to enslave from Petrarch that we see reflected in the illuminations and cassone of the Triumphi later. The virtue cards of the tarot are those of the Dal Ponte cassone of the 1430s rather than of the illuminations of Petrarch, which do not feature them at all. (Neither does Boccaccio, but he starts and ends his poem with a lady who holds a scepter in one hand and a "golden apple" in the other, and who offers him a steep, narrow, and lonely path rather than the noisy one of wisdom, fame, love, and the rest). Even while the cards have the Petrarchan structure reflected in the illuminations, their depictions, at least the majority of those in the so-called "middle" section, more reflect Boccaccio and the cassoni of the 1430s.

So, if it is all right with those who read this Forum, I will continue to post examples of cassoni on triumphal themes before 1440, just to show how they can be seen earlier. By "triumphal" I don't mean "predecessor of the tarot triumphs", but just images that imply victories of one kind or another, over other things, as in the case of Daphne, the triumph of fame, or the seven virtues, which were often shown trampling over exemplars of the vices.

In that spirit, here is another, artist unknown, in the Metropolitan's collection ("Secular Painting in 15th-Century Tuscany: Birth Trays, Cassone Panels, and Portraits": The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, v. 38, no. 1 (Summer, 1980), by Keith Christiansen, Keith and John Pope-Hennessy; for a larger image, see ... 002det.jpg)

The dating of this cassone may be inferred from the authors' remarks (pp. 12-13):
The lighting and modeling of the figures remind one of the grisaille Genesis frescoes by Paolo Uccello in the Chiostro Verde of Santa Maria Novella in Florence, which must date from soon after 1430, and the barren landscape and carefully spaced trees recall Uccello's early work as well.

Like so many paintings of the 1430s, Uccello's frescoes are indebted to Lorenzo Ghiberti's relief style for many of their compositional ideas. It is therefore not surprising that perhaps the closest parallel for the relation of figure to setting and the depiction of violent action n the cassone roundels is to be found in the side-reliefs of Ghiberti's Shrine of Saint Zenobius, which were modeled between 1432 and 1434.
They observe (p. 12) that Hercules' image was on the seal of Florence as early as 1281, and that from 1391 to 1405 two of his exploits, with the Nemean lion and Antaeus, were sculpted on one of the portals to the cathedral, the Porta della Mandorla. (So heroic virtue is nothing new in Florence; it just needed new emphasis.). It is significant, they say, that the images on the cassone seem to derive from classical models, on ancient Roman coins and sarcophagi. The two side panels they identify as depictions of Fortitude and Temperance, necessary virtues for the hero.

One more thing about the Chariot of Love in Siena 1438. It would help if we knew more about what is depicted. If it is a young winged man with bow and arrows and with him a young maiden, then that comes from Boccaccio's Amorosa Visione, which describes the poet's beloved as "shining at Love's side" (dall'altro lato a Amor vidi lucia, XV.60). The same if it is a garden with loving couples and no Cupid. If it shows just Cupid at the top and below him people bound with ropes or slain, that is Petrarch ("some of them were but captives, some were slain"). If it shows Cupid on top and one or more couples below, unbound and loving, that is most likely inspired by the tarot card.

Re: Pratesi on birthtrays, cassoni, Petr. mss. & parades (no

mikeh wrote:
As for the links, something is wrong with Fanco's website; I can't get to the notes in question from
You must change the link content from ... SCHI-Z.pdf
by deleting

Yes, Franco has an error there, likely by uploading from an offline installation (pdf-file generator) to the web.

Re: Pratesi on birthtrays, cassoni, Petr. mss. & parades (no

mikeh wrote:Yes, that works. Thanks. But I still can't get to those notes from the list at Strange.
Franco has the same error at his list
I wrote him about it.

If you click on a link at Franco's page and you're misguided, just delete ""Users/franco/Documents/Desktop/" in the given address of the browser and hit "return" (the main button). Then you will get the article, that you desired.

Re: Pratesi on birthtrays, cassoni, Petr. mss. & parades (no

mikeh wrote:

In that spirit, here is another, artist unknown, in the Metropolitan's collection ("Secular Painting in 15th-Century Tuscany: Birth Trays, Cassone Panels, and Portraits": The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, v. 38, no. 1 (Summer, 1980), by Keith Christiansen, Keith and John Pope-Hennessy; for a larger image, see ... 002det.jpg)

The dating of this cassone may be inferred from the authors' remarks (pp. 12-13):

They observe (p. 12) that Hercules' image was on the seal of Florence as early as 1281, and that from 1391 to 1405 two of his exploits, with the Nemean lion and Antaeus, were sculpted on one of the portals to the cathedral, the Porta della Mandorla.
According to other sources the Porta della Mandorla has three of the labours (I can only find pictures of two), the Hydra, Nemean lion and Actaeus (there are also a couple of other figures of Hercules, but not in context of one of his labours). Antonio Pollaiuolo painted three canvases with the same three subjects (as the Porta della Mandorla - hydra, nemean lion and actaeus) for the Palazzo Medici, c.1460.

As well as Florence, the figure of Hercules was of significance to the D'Estes of Ferrara. De Bassi's 'labours of hercules' was written at the request of, and dedicated to, Niccolo D'Este c.1420/30's. Dennis Looney posits it was probably composed to celebrate the birth of Ercole D'Este, and also notes the reference in the preface to Guarino:
Dennis Looney wrote:I mentioned in passing Pier Andrea de’ Bassi’s Le fatiche di Hercule, which is an early example of the fusion of medieval and classical that becomes so typical of the Ferrarese Renaissance. His
underappreciated prose romance – Antonia Tissoni Benvenuti calls it an «ignored masterpiece» – presents the figure of Hercules, important to Ferrarese identity and ideology long before the emergence of Ercole d’Este as a political leader, moving against a background of medieval pomp and decoration. Written in honor of the Herculean presence of Nicolò III, the work, printed in 1475, was probably composed in the 1430s to celebrate the birth of Ercole (born 24 October 1431).

But the preface makes it clear that there is another Herculean figure in the offing: Guarino
Veronese. Le fatiche di Hercule is written at a transitional moment in Ferrarese culture that is
caused by the arrival of Guarino whose impact is immediate and profound. The work looks back
nostalgically to represent a chivalric Hercules dressed in medieval armor with a lion-skin cape, the
sort of figure who would be familiar to readers of Boccaccio’s Genealogia deorum gentilium and
Salutati’s De laboribus Herculis. Moreover, its mode of composition appeals to an audience
familiar with extended romance narratives built around the technique of entrelacement. But at the
same time there is something new, at moments Herodotean, in the allusiveness of the writing that
even at this relatively early date bears the imprint of the changes in Ferrarese culture with the
ascendency of Guarino’s humanism. Like Hercules in the famous myth associated with him,
Ferrarese culture was at a crossroads.

In a letter to Leonello d’Este of 7 September 1431, around the probable time of the composition
of Le fatiche di Hercule, Guarino adapts a Ciceronian commonplace, vir strenuus ac fortis, to praise
Bassi, referring to him as a vir strenuus ac liberalis in primis (an energetic and honorable man
beyond all others, 2, 127). But Guarino may be damning Bassi with faint praise in this unique
reference to him in his extant letters. A creature of the previous generation, Bassi represents an
earlier moment in Ferrarese culture that the new learning promoted at Guarino’s school is on the
verge of radically transforming.

The Reception of Herodotus in the Ferrarese Quattrocento by Dennis Looney.
Annali Online di Ferrara - Lettere
Vol. 1 (2012) 167/183
According to Arpad Szakolczai in Comedy and Public Sphere: The Rebirth of Comedy as Theatre, p.155:
A central theme connecting the city of Ferrara with its humanists and artists was the cult of Hercules. The alchemical genius of Guarino was again at work here: the patron saint of Ferrara was St. George, whom Guarino connected with the myth of Hercules, in about 1430 helping Pietro Andrea de’ Bassi to compose an epic poem that combined the features of St. George and Hercules. The figure became so essential to Este image-making that the heir to the throne, born just in 1431, was named Ercole; the Este even claimed descent from him... Scenes taken from de Bassi’s epic poem became favourite themes of court artists, ...the hero even appeared on Ferrara’s streets as part of the famed 1433 masquerade procession, ‘a parade of gods led by Apollo with Hercules bringing up the rear,’ dressed ‘wearing the skin of a lion and holding a club in his hand.’
Guarino's medal, which he worked on with Matteo de’ Pasti, has on its reverse a 'fountain of learning and virtue':

" A goblet-like fountain rises from a grassy knoll, surmounted by a nude figure of Hercules, the archetypal figure from antiquity known for his strength and ingenuity. Hercules stands on a globe from which pour ample streams of water. The fountain is encircled by a rich laurel wreath, an allusion to the honorific crowns of laurel awarded to poets, orators, and emperors in ancient Rome."
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: Pratesi on birthtrays, cassoni, Petr. mss. & parades (no

I have been trying to read more about Florentine cassoni in the 1420s-1430s. In the process I came across two cassoni that relate to another of Franco's essays, the one on civic processions in Florence ( ). Here I quote Franco and his quotes, but highlighting the parts that seem to me clearly related to the cassoni:
Along with the candles of the festival of St. John existed the palios [palii, embroidered tapestries], with figures and extraordinary decorations, presented among the offerings and then taken in procession and left to the town, which preserved them, along with the candles, in the Baptistery. These palios were hangings of fine and richly decorated fabrics; to understand what they were we can exploit the survival of the [beginning p. 12] palio of Siena, destined to the winner. The palios, like the candles, formed a kind of forced offering by different municipalities under Florentine dominion and also by the lords of nominally independent territories that in some way were required to pay tribute to Florentine dominion; their numbers were quite high and not constant; in particular, with the passage of time the offering of the palios became gradually more prevalent than that of the candles. After the offering to the Signoria, the candles and the palios were carried in procession.
After the act of submission to the Signoria by the lands of the domain (significantly the only gesture of homage to the political authorities, since all the processions intended to glorify the patron saint), the crowded procession of the governing bodies, with all their own distinct symbols, which was divided into distinct segments, moved from the square: ... (18)

18. P. Ventrone, Annali di Storia di Firenze, II (2007):
There is a cassoni panel illustrating precisely this scene (

Paul Watson in his Ph.D. dissertation of 1970 says, "The banners are offerings from towns of the contado to the Commune of Florence." The arms on the sides are those of the Aldobrandini and either the Fini or the Benci, according to Di Nicola. On the date of the cassone Watson adds (p. 276):
Di Nicola observed that the columns in front of the baptistry were attached to the fabric of that building in 1429, thereby suggesting a terminus ante quem date. ... In 1966, Bellosi observed that the townscape of the cassone reflected the innovations of Masolino and Masaccio in the Brancacci Chapel, and thereby puts the painting in the late 1420s.
I am impressed with how quickly the innovations that characterize the Renaissance style became adopted in cassone painting, at least by this painter, although I have no idea what it is about the townscape that makes it different. Perhaps Bellosi was referring to the other cassone panel, which shows a definite "vanishing point" in the way the buildings are drawn. The same artist, Francesco Toscani, is assigned to both by the respective art galleries. (Watson agrees that they are the same, but says the assignment to Toscani, albeit a documented cassone maker, is just a hypothesis):

It is not said whether these two panels were to the same cassone. I assume that since they are listed separately they are thought to be of different ones.

Franco also mentions "buildings" (or "constructions") being carried in procession. I don't see them, or the large candles.

Added next day: cassoni were always made in pairs. Perhaps these two are the fronts of a pair.

Re: Pratesi on birthtrays, cassoni, Petr. mss. & parades (no

Steve'sM's last post was really interesting, about the recasting of Hercules from chivalric gentleman out of Boccaccio to "Herodotean" hero. It was not clear in the quote what "Herodotean" meant, but I can imagine--someone like the Athenians against the Persians, defeating a much more powerful foe by their determination and shrewd boldness. Perhaps the idea was that Ferrara was such an Athens, and Venice such a Persia; if so, it certainly led to disaster in Ercole's Salt War.

A similar change seems to have happened in Florence--exactly when is not clear; I think around that same time, the early 1430s, but others say it was a little later, around 1440 or 1450. It has something to do with humanism, too, but exactly what is not clear either.

I have been reading Paul Watson's Ph.D. thesis, for the purpose of trying to understand why he thinks that Petrarch's Triumphi suddenly became popular, in the mid-15th-century, he says, as part of a shift in values promoted by Leonardo Bruni, from voluptas to virtus. He thinks the promotion of Petrarch's poem in cassoni and birthtrays was part of it, mentioning by name the workshop of Apollonio di Giovanni. If so, then then the proliferation of "I Trionfi" imagery after 1440 would not have been the result of the proliferation of the tarot, as I have been hypothesizing. The popularity of the game of Triumphs might have contributed to these themes' popularity, but not been a necessary or decisive part.

Essentially Watson's argument is that Bruni promoted Stoicism as opposed to the Epicureanism that permeated the earlier cassoni. Petrarch was a Stoic, especially in his Trionfi Boccaccio more an Epicurean; hence it was important to promote Petrarch, and especially the Trinofi. This shift would have occurred, for Watson, in the late 1430s and early 1440s. Accordingly, he dates the "Labors of Hercules" cassone at c. 1440. It is possible, of course, even if the style reflects innovations by others in the early 1430s.

To support his contention Watson gives several humanist examples from the late 1430s, including Alberti in his essay on the Family. But it is not for him simply a one-time thing. He gives similar examples from Salutati in 1392 (Watson p. 230), Bruni in 1400 (p. 221) and another humanist, Francesco Barbero, in 1416 (p. 231) with the same sentiments ((the pupil of Guarino and with his perspective, SteveM's link indicates). Apparently the earlier defenses of Stoic values didn't succeed. In the 1420s even Bruni is defending Boccaccio and Venus. But then, it appears, a new generation came along to renew the challenge. I will give quotes later. They succeeded.

The problem I have is that nothing in what he quotes from Bruni and the other alleged Stoics supports this theory. He quotes from Bruni's 1400 dialogue in the mouth of Niccolo Niccoli, which makes many criticisms of Boccaccio in its first part, but then defends Boccaccio against them in the second part. His quote from Barbero (p. 232) simply says that while beauty is not to be ignored, the primary criterion in choosing a wife is her virtue, something that Boccaccio would hardly disagree with. Watson also quotes from Alberti in the late 1430s, presumably writing in Ferrara, is much like Barbero in 1416. He is another alleged Stoic; again it is virtus, now of the entire family, that is what is essential, and beauty only an incentive to have the necessary children; but this is not a defining feature of Stoicism. Then there is Bruni in 1436, who sees the family mainly as a bulwark of the state; but again, this is not Stoic in particular.

Actually, Bruni is usually considered an Aristotelian who was also influenced by Plato. He actually argued against Stoicism (see Jill Kraye's essay, "Stoicism in the Philosophy of the Italian Renaissance," in the Routledge Handbook of the Stoic Tradition, ... 20&f=false). Watson also seems to regard Plutarch and Augustine as Stoics; the term is being applied rather loosely to these primarily Platonistic eclectics.

All the same, there is clearly a difference between Florentine cassoni and birthtrays of the 1420s and those of the 1450s. The first use stories primarily from Boccaccio and Ovid, emphasizing the sensuous aspect of love and its compatibility with virtue, the second from Petrarch, Virgil, Homer, etc., emphasizing heroic virtue and regarding sensuous love as a distraction from virtue. In such a shift it natural to use Petrarch, who indeed is closer to Stoicism than just about anyone else in the early Renaissance (see p. 123 of above volume, in the essay by Ada Palmer).

All I can think of is that in the 1420s there was still a need to increase the birth rate. So marriage had to look appealing, not merely a duty. By the late 1430s there was a new priority, namely, the duty to save Florence, and even Italy, from its enemies. Perhaps the condition of Constantinople had made an impression, on top of the threat of Milan. In that case, sensuous love, which might deter a man from war, had to take a back seat to civic duty. I can't think of anything else. The increased emphasis on Plato that might have came out of Plethon's attendance at the Council might have contributed to the shift as well.

What I do get from Watson is a clearer picture of how triumphal themes were treated before 1450 or so (or 1440, as he sometimes says) as opposed to after that date, and that indeed virtus rather than voluptas is what makes the difference, at least as regards Love and Chastity. In fact many cassoni paintings of the 1420s were done on the theme of the strife between love and chastity; sometimes they are resolved in favor of love and sometimes chastity, and sometimes both are victorious. But it is love and chastity conceived differently than in Petrarch: Epicurean vs. Stoic would be one way of characterizing the difference. However it could also be the lower ranks of the "ladder of love" in Plato's Symposium, vs. the higher ranks, with the descriptions of the lower foreshadowing the higher.

The main representative of "Epicureanism" in the 1420s for Watson is Boccaccio, who carried on the French romance tradition of the Roman de la Rose. That work was about the Lover's quest for the Beloved with the help of Nature, Genius, and Venus, against the opposition of Reason, Jealousy, and Chastity (Watson p. 43), in other words, a psychomachia, but not between virtue and vice, but between love, conceived in a physical way, and its opposition, especially Chastity. When the lover (usually male) wins, it is a Triumph of Love over Chastity.

I am going to give a series of examples from pre-1440 which I think will help to show that my example of Apollo and Daphne as a triumph of love followed by a triumph of chastity is how it would have been seen at the time. I am only interested in the stories, not what is shown, which is not easy to interpret (and I have not found all the corresponding paintings on the web; their reproduction in the University Microfilms version of the Ph.D. thesis is unusable).

A popular cassone theme in 1420s Florence was Boccaccio's Tesseida. An example is on a cassone now in Stuttgart, c. 1425 ( ... g.php?id=3). Two men, one associated with Mars (Watson says) and the other with Venus, are in love with the same woman, who of course is associated with Diana. The Martian interrupts the Venusian's wooing and challenges him to a duel; instead, they have a public trial by combat. Mars wins but dies of his wounds (thanks to Venus) soon after. So the Venusian gets the girl, whom he weds and beds (I am not sure on the order). It is the triumph of Venus over Mars, love over war, Venus over Diana, love over chastity.

Then there are the "Garden of Love" cassoni as such. Here we must remember that the groom's party goes to the bride's house--having first consummated the wedding at the bride's place, no doubt so he can reject her if she proves not a virgin. Then he "seizes" her to bring her to the groom's territory, the cassoni are carried in procession, and they end up in the couple's bedroom. It is again the triumph of Love. The garden is a symbol of fertility, conducive also to the relaxed atmosphere that promotes conception. It is also the reward of virtue and so a triumph of the bride's chastity, as well as, in anticipation, the triumph of love over the type of chastity represented by Diana, i.e. virginity.

A popular medieval book on love, the De Amore of Andreas Capellanus, 12th century ( ... apellanus) told a parable of three gardens of love in paradise. "Those who love wisely and well will love in a paradise of green lawns, flowering trees, and flowing streams, together with the King and Queen of Love....Ladies too generous with their favors will be consigned to Humiditas, a swamp. Virgins will dwell in the horrid desert of Aridatus" (Watson p. 64). In this regard Watson makes much of the pastoral setting of dal Ponte's Seven Virtues and 7 Liberal Arts: they are both in a "garden" setting on the cassone (actually, it is just a lawn with flowers).

It seems to me that the CY Love card expresses precisely the "triumph of love" that the "garden of love" cassoni exhibit, in the context of the marriage that the cassone celebrates. There are the heraldics of the two families. (I don't necessarily mean the banner with the cross of Savoy/Pavia, although I think that the cassone tradition would suggest that they are of the two families; there is also the fountain on the man's coat.) If there is indeed a bed on the card, that emphasizes the idea of pleasure even more. In the PMB we are missing the heraldics; however the gestures are the same as in the CY. The CY Chariot card is more of the same, celebrating the bride's chastity and other virtues. The PMB card is something else, not a bride's, but a wife's chastity. (It might perhaps seem odd to use Milan cards as corresponding to Florentine cassoni; but we have no early Florentine Love and Chariot cards, and Milan is a place where the shift to "Stoicism" isn't really evident.) I will say more.

After marriage, from this perspective, it is not that chastity has been lost, but rather that the chastity of a married person is different from the chastity of an unmarried. It is what Watson calls "onestade". A couple of tales from Boccaccio popular on marriage chests illustrate the point, those of Saladin and Torello, and Ginevra of Genoa. "Saladin and Torello" is mostly about the friendship of the two men Torrello and Saladin; the wife is mentioned only at the beginning and end, when her husband leaves for the Holy Land on the understanding that she will marry again if she waits a year and a day after she gets news of her husband's death. She hear such news, and the husband arrives just in the nick of time. But the story is mostly about the virtuous heathen Saladin and the concord--of which Venus would be the patron goddess--with the Christian Torrelli. On the cassoni, however, the story focuses on the wife, showing her as "a gracious hostess, a loving wife, and a helpmate." She also exhibits the virtue of constancy in her love for her husband.

The story of Ginevra of Genoa is similar. In this case, Ginevra is a victim of a friend of her husband's, who fakes proof that he seduced her so as to win a bet, and the husband has her convicted of adultery and sentenced to be executed. Eventually the lie is exposed, but Ginevra never loses faith in her husband. It is the triumph of a certain, "onestade" against inconstancy and resentment. Boccaccio says "she has all the virtues that a woman, or even, in large degree, a knight or a young man should possess" (p. 49).

Then there is Boccaccio's Ninfale Fiesoleano, in 3 surviving cassoni c. 1430. Diana is observed with her nymphs by a passing hunter, who falls in love instantly with one of the nymphs. Venus appears to him in a dream and promises him the nymph, if he will follow her. He catches the nymph by herself and proclaims his love for her. She throws her spear at him, but in so doing looks him in the eye and so is entranced by his beauty. Venus in a dream advises him to disguise himself as a nymph, join the band, and grab her when he has his chance. He does so, When the nymphs take off their clothes to bathe in a stream, his chance comes, and she yields. It is the victory of Venus over Diana. The nymph feels guilt for what she has done and rejects the young man. When Diana sees the ensuing child, she turns the nymph into a stream, in fact the very one that flows by the Villa I Tatti. Chastity is avenged. In this case, love's triumph was not within marriage.

The "garden of love" cassoni frequently showed little children running around or flitting about as little cupids. That suggests that love can even triumph over death, by means of progeny. Some love-gardens defeat death in another way. Those of dal Ponte are "gardens of famous lovers", a few of whom have been identified (Troilus and Cressida, and perhaps Mars and Venus) (pp. 73-4; for photos, see my blog on the Rothschild cards and dal Ponte). A famous love, even unto death if its protagonists are mortal, is a form of worldly glory.

Then there is the fountain. It is that in which Cupid dips his arrows to make them efficacious, gold on one side (for love) and lead (for hate) on the other. In other words, the fountain is that which replenishes love and keeps it alive, in the hope of further pleasure. "The fountain is the baptismal font of Cupid," Watson observes. They are portrayed in similar ways sometimes. There is kind of parallel between sensuous and divine love, shown also in paintings of Madonnas in a rose garden at that time. Music, dance, and fine food also help to tune the senses toward pleasure.

There is also the motif of the chase. These are again battles between love and chastity. Diana is the patron of the hunt, for the very activity draws one away from thoughts of love, just as the sentry at the gate of the Castle of Mirth in the Roman de la Rose is called Idleness. In one birth-tray, youths join nymphs in the hunt, in Diana's wild landscape but then enjoy each others' company afterwards. It looks like the defeat of chastity. In Boccaccio's story "Diana's hunt", the nymphs revolt against Diana after the hunt, banish her, and the dead animals turn into young men whom they marry.

Acteon, of course, hunts stags, the animal of Diana. When he experiences lascivious pleasure at seeing her and her nymphs bathing, she turns him into her animal; it is the victory of Chastity over Pleasure. At the same time, the viewer enjoys the forbidden pleasure of seeing what Acteon saw.

A complex variation is the theme of Diana and Callisto (p. 82). Diana, in an aureole of light on the cassone, leads her ladies in the hunt for rabbits, animals beloved by Venus. One of the nymphs retires to a grotto with her prey, where Jupiter, smitten with passion (no doubt from one of Cupid's arrows), assumes the form of Diana so as to get close enough to achieve his aim. After his success, Diana finds out and expels her. After the birth of her son, Juno, the aggrieved spouse and goddess of marriage, does more, and turns her into a bear, which 15 years later is about to be killed by her own son. Jupiter intervenes and turns both into constellations, a kind of victory over death--and even fame, since they will go around til the end of time. Juno commands Oceanus never to receive them to give them rest. The last word is that of the goddess of chastity within marriage.

Another example Watson gives for early cassoni is the Judgment of Paris. Here Paris rejects Wealth (Juno) and Wisdom (Athena) to give Love (Venus) the triumph. Again there is much beauty to admire. But the viewer knows how the story will end: Love will be triumphed over, as concord (whose goddess is Venus) turns to war (Mars) and Helen is dragged back to Menelaus, a victory for marriage (Juno) but not love.

My point in giving these examples was to say that in this context, Apollo and Daphne on a cassone cannot be anything but another example of the strife between Love and Chastity. Apollo is not about to marry Daphne. He is inflamed by Cupid's golden arrow, just as Daphne is inflamed in the opposite way by his lead arrow. Her turning into a tree is a kind of death as a nymph. It seems to me fairly parallel to Petrarch and Laura.

On cassoni after mid-century, Petrarch dominates. There is no such thing as a chaste or virtuous pleasure, or anticipation of pleasure, of sexual love, inside or out of marriage. Cupid's victims are bound with ropes, slain, or made to look ridiculous, like Samson with Delilah or Aristotle with Phyllis. In about 1440, Watson says (p. 201), "choice of Hercules" paintings start appearing: one must choose between virtue and pleasure, not think one can have both.

For its part, Chastity now equals virginity, no longer compatible with sexual pleasure in marriage. The model is Petrarch's Laura, who dies a virgin.

As for marriage, its aim not to attain one's object of desire, but for progeny and companionship. Alberti in his essay on "The Family", written in the late 1430s, says (Watson p. 233):
we are inclined to take a wife for two reasons: the first is to be surrounded by children; the other is to have a steadfast and constant companion all of one's days.
Others gave one other reason: as the foundation of the republic. Bruni said, in his Vita da Dante of 1436 (Watson p. 235)
The first community is that of man and wife, from which, when multiplied, comes the republic.
This is hardly a frontal attack on Epicureanism, I would observe. Watson quotes Alberti in an earlier passage as saying that the wife's beauty and compliant attitude are both conducive to the end of producing children.

In this new setting, Love, in the sense of what Cupid delivers, is only an instinct to be triumphed over by the virtues, not virtue's reward. The tarot sequence, in which the virtue cards triumph over the love card, reinforces that theme. As for the chariot card, a victorious woman is not quite the ideal. "Virtus" is from "vir", man, "and by a man is meant one who is constant and brave" (Watson p. 235f). The only appropriate image of a virtuous woman now is one with courage and steadfastness, the personification of Fortitude, not of sensual Beauty. Of Boccaccio's tales, only that of Griselda is worthy of a cassone. She is someone of whom "long-suffering" is a gross understatement (see Her reward is not a triumphal parade but an invitation to re-marry the monster she is so devoted to.

So the Florentine charioteer is a masculine conquering hero, the ideal of the new ethic. It is true that the Minchiate charioteer, a near-naked beauty, does not fit that rule; it reflects the earlier, Boccaccian model. Likewise the minchiate love card shows a lady crowning a kneeling man, reminiscent of ladies putting garlands on men's heads as a sign of their acceptance of his love.

What I am saying is that there are indeed triumphal motifs in cassoni and birthtrays before 1440; however they are not as Petrarch conceived them, or even necessarily in his order. In relation to the tarot, the odd thing is that even as the tarot follows Petrarch's order, at least in the forms we know it, its images of the Lover are not always consistent with Petrarch's, but hark back to a different and opposing tradition. As for Chastity, it again, to the extent that something can be found in the early tarot corresponding at all, is not Petrarch's.

As for the other Petrarchan triumphs, there is the one example of Fame, which Watson and others think is c. 1400 (but not Callman, who thought 1420s-1430s). The others, Death and Time and Eternity, would not be expected on cassoni. Fame, of course, is an important place to channel desire in the "Stoic" sense, away from sex and toward the nobler path of virtue--a course that Boccaccio, too, had recommended (in Book One of Amorosa Visione) but about which he did not say nearly as much.

And perhaps indeed it is Herodotus--"father of history" or "father of lies" (I will have to read Plutarch's version)--who is decisive, more than Cicero and Seneca.

Re: Pratesi on birthtrays, cassoni, Petr. mss. & parades (no

mikeh wrote:Yes, that works. Thanks. But I still can't get to those notes from the list at Strange.
The problem is solved.
As for the other Petrarchan triumphs, there is the one example of Fame, which Watson and others think is c. 1400 (but not Callman, who thought 1420s-1430s). The others, Death and Time and Eternity, would not be expected on cassoni. Fame, of course, is an important place to channel desire in the "Stoic" sense, away from sex and toward the nobler path of virtue--a course that Boccaccio, too, had recommended (in Book One of Amorosa Visione) but about which he did not say nearly as much.
One has to consider, that Perarca in his Trionfi poem also had much to say about "Love" (4 chapters) and "Fame" (3 chapters), but not much about the others (Chastity 1 chapter, Death 2 chapters, Time 1 chapter, Eternity 1 chapter, totally 5 chapters against 7 others).

... .-) ... The Cassoni production just followed the same style and motif.

Re: Pratesi on birthtrays, cassoni, Petr. mss. & parades (no

I recently read a really good short book on Florentine cassoni. There is one couple of pages in particular that seems to apply verbatim to the other minor arts that the same painters were engaged in, including cards with scenes on them--not only tarot, but saints, etc. The book is an exhibition catalog, Love and Marriage in Renaissance Florence: The Courtauld Wedding Chests, 2009, by Caroline Campbell. When the author wrote the book she was Schroder Foundation Curator of Paintings at the Courtauld Gallery in London. She has since been promoted to Head of the Curatorial Department and Curator of Italian Painting before 1500 at the National Gallery. This selection on pp. 32-33 is relevant (the part on Bruni's eclectic approach to Roman history is not as clear or relevant as the rest, but it's there, so I leave it in).
Image as History?

In a passage made famous by Ernst Gombrich, the humanist poet Ugolino Verino eulogised the painter Apollonio di Giovanni, who specialised in cassoni, for producing erudite and moving depictions of ancient history (such as fig. 7) which were 'better' in their evocation of 'burning Troy' than the epics of Homer and Virgil.(9) Verino compared Apollonio directly to the ancient Greek artist Apelles, the paragon of painters. This 'Tuscan Apelles' also exploited his charm and skill as an interpreter to make history vividly present for those who used his paintings.

Adorned with coats of arms, painted chests embodied family identity, memory and history (see cat. 1 and 2). The stories they told were edited so that they conformed to the moral and exemplary significance with which, for Florentines, history was endowed. There is thus a sense in which these paintings can be considered as visual parallels to the contemporary writing, reading, and understanding of history.

The workshops that produced pictures for the domestic setting were also familiar with the production of cycles of sacred histories in churches. They had access to sophisticated means of pictorial exposition, and were able to compose coherent narratives in which several sources might be amalgamated. It can further be argued that in some of the techniques they used they were influenced by contemporary historians. Upon examination it emerges that secular paintings for the domestic setting were deliberate syntheses of different retellings of the tales they narrated, rather than simply visualisations of a single text.

This selection process produced painted histories which were compatible with wider assumptions about the content and use of history. They could at once furnish the more highly educated members of the household with subjects befitting their status and aspirations, allied with the most prestigious classical production of these images, but the painted history was never intended to be a surface for the display of textual references. It was a field for an amalgamation of diverse sources in one setting. From these it created new and distinctive visual histories appropriate and relevant to patrician households. They were required to fulfil the primary function of history - that of instruction - in this case for a diverse audience in a single space.

Painters were not historians, and the formal connections between visual interpretations of ancient history and written histories can be overstated. However, a case can be made in support of the argument that painted domestic histories were influenced by new attitudes towards the writing and use of history, conceived by Brunetto Latini, augmented by Petrarch and Coluccio Salutati in the late fourteenth century, and expanded by Leonardo Bruni, Poggio Bracciolini, Donato Acciaiuoli and others during the Quattrocento.(10)

Bruni and his contemporaries recreated ancient history in the image of their own world, reviving the Roman historian Livy's methods to write their own history. Like Livy, they intended their readers to model themselves on the heroes their histories contained. Bruni, whose Latin History of the Florentine People was rendered into the volgare by Donato Acciaiuoli, was very significant for the diffusion of new approaches to history in fifteenth-century Florence.(11) He was indebted above all to Livy, Sallust and the philosopher and orator Cicero for his approach to the historian's craft, as well as the factual information he provided about ancient Etruria, the territorial antecedent of the Florentine Republic.(12) In general, Bruni followed Livy - even if in an important deviation he expressed muted praise for Mucius Scaevola (see the Nerli spalliera, cat. 2), who had frightened the Etruscan king Lars Porsenna into believing that all Romans would act as courageously as he. Bruni considered that the Romans' refusal to follow the normal rules of military engagement had presevented Porsenna and his men from capturing Rome.(13) Although on this occasion he rejected Livy’s pro-Roman bias, he did so using Livy’s historical [start p. 33] methods. weighing up a range of primary sources to reach a balanced conclusion.

The painters of visual histories at times used a comparable technique of selective argumentation and combining sources. For example, the paintings of Dido and Aeneas and Ulysses made by Apollonio di Giovanni and his workshop (see fig. 7) have hitherto been discussed simply in terms of their relationship to the modern canon of the Aeneid and the Iliad and to works of humanist history, when in fact they depend on a variety of textual traditions - ranging from the ancients Virgil, Homer and Ovid through to modern authors Dante, Boccaccio, Petrarch, Brunetto Latini and Guido delle Colonne.(14) A large. although not quite so extensive, range of different interpretations informed the telling of other stories in the domestic painting repertoire, such as the narrative of Susanna and the Elders interpreted by artists as diverse as Zanobi Strozzi (fig. 18) and the Master of Apollo and Daphne.(15)

This diversity of sources means that the argument of a painted furniture narrative is not always immediately clear to a modern viewer. However, it is likely that the paintings ‘capacity to incorporate a number of different interpretations formed part of the attraction they held for their fifteenth century users. Familiar stories could be told in a way which permitted a variety of diverse meanings.

‘According to what each one liked best’:
the requirements of cassone panels

The visual diversity and multiplicity (even confusion) found on the average cassone panel must have been introduced in response to the potentially different requirements of those people who were intended to see and make use of them. They were intended to convey exemplary moral messages akin to those provided by
written history to men. women. children. and other household members. Their potential role of providing models of appropriate behaviour was greatest for those - the women (16) and servants - whose literacy (as readers and writers) was uncertain. or even in certain quarters considered undesirable. In addition, certain ensembles were intended to provoke intellectual discussion and debate. And although their educative and prescriptive role was crucial. They were also meant to contain the power to divert and entertain.
9. Verino [Flametta, ed. Mancaraglia] 1940, Book II, no. 8, translated by E.H. Gombrich in Gombrich ['Apollonio di Giovanni: a Florentine cassone workshop seen through the eyes of a humanist poet', Norm and Form, 4th ed., pp. 11-28] 1985, p. 11.
10. For an introduction to Florentine twelfth- and thirteenth-century historiography, see Del Monte [La Storiografie fiorintini del secolo XII e XIII, Bulletino dell'instituto storico italiano, 62, pp. 152-176] 1950. For an opening into the complicated world of fourteenth- and fifteenth-century historiography, see Cochrane [Historians and Historiography in the Italian Renaissance] 1980, pp. 3-9; Jacks [The Antiquarian and the Myth of Antiquity] 1993, PP. 74-86; Hankins ['The Baron Thesis after 40 years and some recent studies on Leonardo Bruni', Journal of the History of Ideas, 56, pp. 1-30] 1995, pp. 1-30.
11. See Ianziti ['Bruni on Writing History", Renaissance Quarterly 51, pp. 367-91] 1998; Hankins [Reportorium Bruniarum: a critical guide to the writings of Leonardo Bruni, 2 vols.] 1997, vol. 1, p. 259; Bessi ['Un tradittore a lavoro: Donatto Acciaiouli e l'alaborazione del vulgarizzimento delle Historiae in Paolo Viti, ed., Leonardo Bruni, Cancellliere della republica di Firenze] 1990.
12. La Penna [Il significato di Saliustio nella storiografia e nel pensiero politico di L. Bruni', in Antonio La Penna, Saliustio e la revoluzione romana] 1968, App. I, pp. 9ff.
13. Cabrini [Le "Historiae" di Bruni Risultati e ipostesi di una ricerca sulle fonte", in Viti, ed., work cited] 1990.
14. Schubring [Cassoni: Truhen und Truhenbilder der italinischen Fruhreenaissance: Ein Beitrag zur Profanmalerei im Quattrocento, 2 vols.] 1915, pp. 179-203; Gombrich [work cited] 1985.
15. Baskins ['Griselda, or the Renaissance bride stripped bare by her bachelor in Tuscan cassone painting' Stanford Italian Review, 10, 1992, pp. 153-171] 1991, pp. 329-41.
16. For the appropriateness of female viewing and learning, see Tinagli [Women in Italian Renaissance Art: Gender, Representation, Identity] 1997, pp. 162-64.
There is more, including quotes from Lorenzo and Vasari (the latter in the section title above), but this is enough. What I would emphasize here is the diversity of sources even in a single work (a deck, in the case of cards, but also the individual cards)--in other words, a single source for a work would be the exception and not the rule--and the variety of purposes (moral edification, education, discussion, entertainment). Given that this is for something that is just to store clothes in and hardly ever leaves the bedroom, the same principle would seem to apply to tarot cards.

Re: Pratesi on birthtrays, cassoni, Petr. mss. & parades (no

After Phaeded's intriguing short quote from Dale Kent's magnificent Cosimo de' Medici and the Florentine Renaissance, I have started reading it. Kent has a chapter called "Venues and Performances" that deals with much the same material as Franco talked about in his note on civic processions. There are a few things there that seemed to me relevant that Franco's source did not cover (see viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1092&start=30#p17993). In this post I am going to deal only with the San Giovanni celebrations, for which Kent uses precisely the same original sources as Franco, namely one in the "early fifteenth century" [Franco says 1410] by the silk merchant Gregario Dati, and the other about the festival of 1454, written by Matteo Palmieri. Both seem to be eye-witness accounts. In my presentation of Kent, there will inevitably be overlap. Kent's language gives me a clearer picture of some aspects, perhaps because the English translation is better.

The early 15th century festival was spread over two days. In the morning of the 23rd, the shops displayed their finest wares. Then, still in the morning there was a procession, starting with the clergy carrying many relics of saints and wearing "garments of gold and silk and embroidered with designs", followed by the confraternities "dressed like angels, playing instruments of every wort and singing marvelously, presenting the most beautiful representtions of the saints and their relics to which they did honor" (p. 60) In the afternoon came the parade of the districts under their banners, with their offerings of candles at the baptistry.

On the day of the 24th (p. 60)
The piazza outside the palace of the Signoria was curtained off and transformed into a theater accommodating a hundred "towers" made of wood, paper, and wax, painted and elaborately decorated. Each one contained figures of soldiers, horsemen, and dancing girls, made to revolve continually by men stationed inside the towers.
These wax towers were then part of the offerings made at the Baptistry; they were hung in the church until next year's feast.

After dinner came the horse race, the palio. An important detail is that afterwards "the winner was borne around the city in a triumphal chariot". Kant has a footnote here noting that "The triumphal cart was an essential feature of illustrations of Petrarch's Trionfi, and no doubt its frequent appearances in ceremonies and paintings informed one another." (note 169, p. 415).

By 1454 Palmieri (still p. 60)
noted some major changes in the proceedings, wrought partly in response to Archbishop Antoninus's reforms. ...the celebrations henceforth to occupy four whole days, beginning on the 21st with the mostra, the display of the citiy's wealth in its wares. The 22nd was set aside for "the procession of all the floats [of the confraternities]." These were the focus of his account. Each consisted of a tableau vivant of a major event of sacred history, a sort of mobile sacred play...
Antoninus had become Archbishop in 1446. But since he won the esteem of the Florentine people by "his energy and resource in combating the effects of the plague and earthquake in 1448 and 1453" (, I would expect that 1454 was in fact the first year of such an elaborate celebration.

Kent's description of the floats then follows Franco's source, with one important addition, namely, that the part representing the journey of the Magi to adore the Christ child had "a retinue of more than two hundred horses magnificently adorned" (still p. 60). So it was a mini-Procession of the Magi, occurring every year in addition to the vastly more elaborate one every five years or so at Epiphany.

Of the whole series, Kent observes,
While the companies' tableaux amounted to an even more lavish and ingenious form of display than the traditional towers with their revolving wax figures, they also represented Florentines' growing conviction that the city's wealth consisted not only in the abundance of its worldly produce, but also in its citizens' rich sense of sacred history. They underlined the prominent place of devotion in civic tradition, and fixed inthe popular mind the essential elements of the major subjects of sacred art.
Kent goes on for the rest of this and two more chapters to elaborate on that point (he says in a footnote to this last sentence). But I will stop here and reflect on a possible role of the tarot in all this. The game had only been legalized in 1450, so in 1454 it was not only well known but officially sanctioned. Franco observes that there were 22 parts to this parade, ticked off by number. Of course that could be a coincidence: 22 was already a sacred number, for the 22 chapters of revelation, the 22 books of the Old Testaments, the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet, and recommendations of that number by the Church Fathers, notably Origen. But perhaps it is not a coincidence. I can't help noticing certain parallels between some of the 22 parts and certain tarot cards in precisely that part of the sequence. We have (Franco's quotation):
First moves the Cross of Santa Maria del Fiore, with all its clergy children, and in behind their six singers.
[start of Franco's p. 14]
Second, the Companies of Jacopo the shearer and Nofri the cobbler, with about thirty children dressed in white and angels.
Third, the Building of Saint Michael Angel, who was standing above God the Father in a cloud: and in the Piazza opposite to the Signoria, a depiction of the battle of the Angels was done, when Lucifer with his accursed angels was kicked out of heaven.
Fourth, the Company of ser Piero and Antonio Mariano, with about thirty children-angels dressed in white.
Fifth, the Building of Adam; in the Piazza was depicted when God created Adam and then Eve, gave them the commandment, and their disobedience, also being expelled from Heaven, with the temptation of the snake before, and other things pertaining.
Sixth, Moses on horseback, with much cavalry, the leaders of the people of Israel, and others.
Seventh, the Building of Moses; which in the Piazza was representation of when God gave them the law.
Eighth, most of the Prophets and Sibyls, with Hermes Trismegistus and other Prophetizers of the incarnation of Christ.
Ninth, the Annunciation Building; and its representation.
Tenth, Emperor Octavian, with much cavalry, and the Sibyl; to make representations when the Sibyl foretold them Christ was to be born, and depiction the Virgin with Christ in her arms in the air. (...)
Eleventh, Templum Pacis, with the Building of the Nativity, to make its depiction.
Twelfth, a magnificent triumphal temple edifice; in which the ornate octagonal temple, seven Virtues around, and from the east the Virgin with Christ was born; and Herod around said temple was its depiction.
Thirteenth, the three Magi, with cavalry of more than two hundred horses decorated very beautifully, come to offer to the newborn Christ. Omitting the Passion and Burial, because it seemed inappropriate for the occasion.
Fourteenth, a cavalry of Pilate, ordered to guard the Sepulcher.
Fifteenth, the Edifice of Burial, where Christ was resurrected.
Sixteenth, the Building of Limbo, from where the Holy Fathers were taken.
Seventeenth, the Building of Paradise, where the Holy Fathers said Masses.
Eighteenth, the Apostles and Mary who have been present at the Assumption.
Nineteenth, the Building of the Assumption of Christ, that is, when he ascended to heaven.
Twentieth, three cavalry, King, Queen and maidens and nymphs, with dogs and others pertaining to living.
Twenty-first, the Building of the Living and the Dead.
Twenty-second the Building of Judgment, with the float of the sepulchers, Heaven, and Hell; and its representation, as by faith we believe will be the end of the centuries.
All the above mentioned buildings made their representations in the Piazza before the Signoria; and they lasted even to the 16th hour.) (21)
21. C. Guasti, Le feste di San Giovanni... pp.21-22.
Franco then observes:
A series of twenty-two scenes ending in the Judgment surely will surely summon the attention of some tarot historian, but to find convincing associations for twenty-two figures looks anything but easy.
Well, yes, I am going to try. First we have to notice that there isn't going to be a one-to-one correspondence to cards. The first two are not really part of the "sacred history" at all; others repeat what was in the one proceeding, in a different way; and a few, such as the tableau of the seven virtues, might correspond to more than one card. And of course this is not meant as an explanation for how the tarot subjects came to be; this is 1454.

First is the cross and the clergy-children. I don't know what card that could be, unless perhaps the "holy fool".

Second is the companies of the shearer and the cobbler. The Bagat is sometimes taken for a cobbler. At least he is at a table, and no doubt was of some fascination for children

Third is the battle of the angels and the defeat of Lucifer. Well, the Bagat could certainly be a kind of much diminished Lucifer, the deceiver and illusionist.

Fourth are children angels. I don't know. The Popess belongs here, but she is not an angel.

Fifth is the creation of Adam and Eve. Well, we have the Empress and the Emperor, their successors, may they not eat of the forbidden fruit unless it involves the begetting of the emperor to come.

Sixth is Moses. Well, the Pope is his modern equivalent.

Seventh is Moses getting the Law. That is a repetition of the same; but it might be the book of earthly justice, first draft.

Eighth, the prophets and sybils who predicted Christ's birth, including Hermes Trismegistus. I don't know. The Popess (as a sybil) and the Old Man both come to mind, both out of sequence.

Ninth, the Annunciation. Ah, yes, the Love card, with Cupid as the Holy Spirit. A joke association. I imagine here the card of the Rosenwald (man kneeling, woman with arrow in her back shot by Cupid above), even if it is modeled on a standard representation of Petrarch and Laura.

Tenth, the Emperor Octavian, and the birth of Christ. Well, the Chariot card fits here, that of the Triumphator in two senses.

Eleventh, the Nativity. This is a repetition of something worth repeating.

Twelfth, the Seven Virtues, with Herod. There's seven cards right there. There is an opportunity here for the Wheel, since Herod died a painful death shortly after the Massacre of the Innocents. But no Wheel is mentioned in the account.

Thirteenth, the Magi. I don't know. If the Old Man had a lantern, there would be a match. But he doesn't. The 3 Magi were portrayed on the Star card, but if that is the correspondence, it is out of sequence.

Omitted: the Passion. Even though omitted, it is still mentioned and so an element of the story. The Hanged Man, the card Alciati called "crux"--or Judas, who hanged himself at that time.

Omitted: The Burial. Even though omitted, it is still mentioned and so an element of the story. Death.

Fourteenth, Pilate's men guarding the sepulcher. That stands in for Death.

Fifteenth, the edifice of burial, where Christ was resurrected. More on Death, showing the promise of rebirth.

Sixteenth, Christ's descent into Limbo. Limbo is technically part of Hell, the domain of the Devil.

Seventeenth, the Holy Fathers in Paradise saying Masses. I don't know. Possibly the Terrestrial Paradise is meant, to reverse the Original Sin of which the people in Limbo are still tainted. In Dante's Divine Comedy it is at the top of a large tower-shaped mountain surrounded by a ring of fire, as in ... isPoem.jpg. They are still in Purgatory because they have to take the sacraments (I assume from post-crucifixion Fathers). But maybe this is too much of a stretch.

Eighteenth, the Apostles and Mary at the Assumption. I don't know. Seems not separate from the next one.

Nineteenth, the Assumption of Christ. The Bolognese World card comes to mind, with Mercury standing on the four elements. Mercury was a classical prototype for Christ, because of his ability to go to and from Olympus and the Underworld to earth with messages. The Assumption was rather a big deal in Florence, because Brunelleschi got to use his levers and pulleys, if not here then in the Ascension play that preceded June 24 by a few weeks. Kent has a spectacular eye-witness account. Massolini did the clouds.

Twentieth, King, Queen, maidens, nymphs, dogs. I don't know. I think it's a prelude to the next thing.

Twenty-first, the Living and the Dead. The bottom part of the Angel card.

Twenty-second, the Judgment. The top part of the Angel card.

Well, with 7 cards represented in one float and 2 in another, there are close to 22 correspondences here, in more or less the right place in the sequence. We just have to assume that Hope, Faith, and Charity were indeed in the tarot, and maybe even Prudence, but all them in the middle part, before Death. What I don't see is the Popess and the Celestials, except maybe the Star, and if so it is in the wrong place. I don't see the Sun and Moon at all. What is also missing is a Wheel of Fortune.

So what is being described might be an indication of what the Florentine tarot looked like in 1454: the standard tarot minus a few of the subjects, but with the four additional virtues.

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