I certainly like your fresh perspective, Sandy. And for me, it's always good to rethink these things. I think I understand your point, about humanist images vs. medieval Christian images, with the Visconti tarot images more like the medieval Christian. However I don't think there is such a big divide here. Christian subjects continued to be popular throughout the Renaissance, even with Mannerism. It was only the method of presenting them that changed, using perspective, the illusion of space, naturalistic expressions, etc., and Milan was later than Florence in making the change. There was also much secular art during the 14th century. An art historian expert on Giotto once asked the rhetorical question, how much of Giotto's secular art is lost? Answer: 100%. But there are documents showing that he did a whole lot of secular art, i.e. signs of the zodiac, ancient heroes, etc. The fact is that in wars, palaces and public buildings get destroyed a lot more than churches do,
How exactly did the humanist owner of the second largest library in Europe produce a deck of cards that screams holy picture on the wall of a weaver's cottage with every card? How did the family that made the Martiano cards make these cards? They couldn't have made them if they tried. That's what I see, when I look at the tarocchi trumps.
Two things: (a) he got older and more concerned about life after death; (b) he had a child who was now of "first communion" age and receiving the appropriate religious instruction for confirmation. instruction that Filippo could relate to. He needed a game he could play with his daughter and mistress, showing how the virtues fit into the various goals of life, and what frustrates them, which are represented by the names of the Petrarchan triumphs. The imagery comes from the Middle Ages, yes. But the Chariot card, for one, seems to me definitely humanistic, straight out of Plato. You don't really have to have read the sections of Petrarch's poems to know their order and general themes; just the titles of the six sections are enough, plus the "triumph of fortune" familiar from numerous sources. The imagery on the cards (and even the iilustrations of the poem on cassone and in manuscrips) doesn't fit the content of Petrarch's six sections very well anyway.
We are only talking about the Cary-Yale, I presume, and just the cards that are preserved, even though surely there were at least a few more. I am not saying that this is what happened, just that it is a plausible explanation for the religious and moral emphasis, which I fully agree with.
You mentioned that Petrarch was in Florence rather than Milan. Actually, Petrarch spent only the earliest part of his life there, and in fact for about 8 years served the Visconti as their ambassador at various courts (See https://www.questia.com/read/3572118/pe ... s-in-milan
). At his death (near Padua) the Visconti got all of his library except his own works.
My question is not what private game they would have created, but what happened after that? Somehow, we go from a private family game, to cheap decks of “naibi di trionfi” sold in vast numbers by 1453 at least in Florence. Cheap and in vast numbers implies printed, and printing implies a printer. Maybe the printer bribed a kitchen maid in the palace for the rules. Maybe the Duke bankrolled the printer hoping to make some money from the family game.
We don't know, of course, but it is not hard to imagine plausible scenarios. Filippo gives decks of tarot cards, to people he wants to reward such as condottieri that he wants to keep even though he is paying them substandard wages. Perhaps he even has a few cards painted with scenes relating to the person he's giving them to (i.e. the CY "World" [really Fama]] card) A known example is the painted deck given by someone in Tuscany to Malatesta in 1440. The soldiers under the condottieri hear about these gifts, and want to play, too. Hence a demand for cheaper cards. One particular condottiere, Francesco Sforza, leaves Filippo's employment (around 1436, I think) and goes to work for Florence instead, taking his soldiers with him. So Florence hears about the game, creating more demand for this new deck.
Or it came from somewhere else, or was invented in Florence, although I don't anything to suggest that much before 1440. The pre-1440 evidence, admittedly circumstantial, is from Milan , home of the Marziano deck, documented not only by Marcello but by Decembrio and by Marziano himself in his treatise, even if, since it is part of the same packet as Marcello's letter, he probably sent with the letter. Then Florence, 1440, not a cheap deck, then 1442 Ferrara/Bologna, medium priced, then 1443 Florence, probably cheap, since it is being played illegally very near the Florence jail, indiscretely enough to get the players arrested. Franco Pratesi has a note about that. But cheap ordinary cards were made long before. Hind in his book on the history of the woodcut has a note about a woodblock card maker in Florence of 1428.
The first thing the printer says is, “This writing on the cards has to go. Some of my customers can't read, and writing just costs too much to carve, your grace.”
What writing? Well, there is a little, like "Amor" on the Love card, according to Cigognara's sketch; I didn't know about "Caritas": where is that? But the important thing is the numbers, which give the order. and there weren't numbers even on ordinary cards, until around 1500, or maybe 1490, since the Sola-Busca has numbers. Then it's just numerals, easy to carve. Before that, the order has to be memorized. The point is Christian education of a traditional sort, not Bridge or the humanism of the previous deck. If it were just for a game like Bridge or Whist, they would have had some indication of the number, at least,, and then the subjects on the cads would have been irrelevant and probably have shown more variation than they do, like with the "animal tarock" of 18th century Germany. As it is, we only have two varieties, first the Marziano and then the more religiously oriented deck of the CY.. Later some rather irreverent additional cards start showing up.
To play the game, you don't really have to know the names of the cards, only the order of the sequence, although knowing the names helps some people, those who are verbal rather than visual, to remember the order better. You might also have had to know which suit the trump is associated with, if it is structured like the Marziano. But there is a rationale, absolutely unwritten, necessarily memorized - and not simply by rote, because there is a didactic rationale. Yes, a grid. not only 7x7 + 2 but also 4x4, i.e. four groups of four, as in Marziano's game, with at least one Petrarchan and one virtue in each group.
It is passed down, let us suppose, from Filippo and family to his court and condottieri, and from the latter to the soldiers, perhaps. As it spreads to more people, what needs to be memorized gets simpler; in Florence you don't have to know any related suits, and a different rationale with a different order develops, easier to remember, but also not deducible from what is on the cards. It doesn't have to be the same everywhere, even everywhere in the same city, as long as players play with the same group of people all the time. Again, remember that the game is illegal, even though the law proves, at least in Florence, not to be enforced unless in blatant disregard for the law (such as playing outside the police station or on the steps of a church). But the Christian framework is part of what allows the game to be tolerated by the more elite clergy of the Church, along with the skill required. Then when it is established, the card makers can liven it up for the masses and add some crazy, Carnivalesque cards, like the Fool, the Magician, the Popess, the Hanged Man, the Devil, the Tower, and so on.
As far as the Visconti playing the same game as everyone else, we know from the Marziano game that that wasn't the case. This game would not have appealed to the masses, as you say. Otherwise, it's difficult to generalize. Given that the rules were probably not disseminated by a rule-book, it would probably depend on where - iin the sense of milieu - it started.