Re: Moakley's book: text and discussion

Phaeded wrote
Can anyone produce a 15th century depiction of an Umiliati nun that resembles the PMB trump?
Didn't you once post the following, which you said was from the cover of F. Andrews, The Early Humiliati, Cambridge University Press, NY, 1999 and estimated 14th century? It looks late gothic to me, i.e. 15th century or before.

Added March 5: Phaeded later in the thread links to where he retracted this analysis of the painting. Despite the title of the book, he will say, it is actually of Cistercians, as he discovered seeing the painting in the Pinoteca of Bologna. See his post at viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1168&start=70#p19143, my post immediately following, then his post immediately following, and my post immediately following that.


The knots are not there, of course; that was part of the legend as reported in the trial document (my translation of the Italian quoted by Filesi, ( ... 72&lng=ENG):
In this room in the presence of all the summoned people Sister Maifreda said that the lady St. Guglielma had ordained the sister Maifreda to say to all those present that she was the Holy Spirit, true God and true man, and that hence all the aforesaid there present would not have appeared in her presence [otherwise]. Added the aforementioned Sister Maifreda: "Let be for me what can be”. Allegranza also said to remember that the above mentioned lady Carabella in that house then sat on her own habit, and when she got up, she found that the belt or cord of her habit had made three knots that had not been there: and there grew around them then marveling and whispering among them, and many from this same testimony believed it to be a great miracle.
They don't say whether Manfreda would have started wearing her habit like that; probably not, since it would have attracted attention and not been in accord with Umiliati custom. But it is a good identifying detail, for those in the know. For those not in the know, or to the Inquisitors, it is a harmless identifier of a Poor Clare.

It is possible that I have misread you about the Umliati habit. If so, let me know.

There is also the trial document, about which I quote my translation of Filesi's transcription from Italian, itself probably a translation from Latin. Filesi writes ( ... 72&lng=ENG):
The main religious orders active in northern Italy in the second half of the fifteenth century were the Franciscans, whose robe was brown, the Dominicans, who wore a white tunic and a black hood, the Augustinians, with black robe, and the Umiliati dressed in white. According to the minutes of the Inquisition, the robe of the Guglielmites was "morello,” that is, dark, and that the aforementioned Guglielma wore habits of the color “marrone moreto." By the nuances of the sentence, we can assume that on this occasion the term "morello" refers to a very dark brown, almost black. On the basis of these colors, the habit of the Pierpont Popess seems inspired by the Franciscan habit, and also, if it was a little darker, could be identified with the habits of the Guglielmites, as appears most evident in the case of the Fournier Popess.
It is possible that the PMB Popess's robe was painted light brown based on paintings such as the one you posted rather than the trial document, or perhaps a nervous Bembo who decided it was safer to paint a Poor Clare. The Fournier Popess would then be a correction based on the trial document.

Alternatively, art historian Monike Dachs (Pantheon I, 1992, pp. 175-178) cited by Bendera in the 2013 Brera catalog, p. 52) has suggested that this and others (Justice, Time, Page of Coins, Page of Batons) were retouched by the later artist (Cigognara, she says). The robe does look like the same type of paint and style as the "added cards". In that case, he would have done the whole brown part to look the same, and we wouldn't know what shade of brown the habit on the original was. He might have decided the habit had to have been that of a Poor Clare, due to the knots.

The Fournier also has the knots, but less obviously, due to the way the rest of the robe is painted. (For the two cards side by side, see the beginning of Filesi's essay, either in Italian or in my translation at ... 72&lng=ENG).

Re: Moakley's book: text and discussion

Some additions to my post about the "ribald" interpretation applying to the Ferrara/Venice tarots of the late 15th-early 16th century. In the Metropolitan/Budapest cards, there is the Love card, with the man kneeling before the woman in the romantic stance while the woman has an arrow in her back (presumably from the Cupid above). No cold lady there. In the courts, besides the drinker, there is the wild man, the knights riding birds (ostriches?), a knight riding a "beast with human head", as Kaplan says, and another knight with a face like a spooky mask. There is also what seems to be a couple of take-offs on Raphael's "School of Athens," where Plato points up and Aristotle points down. In one deck, the maid of coins has her arm pointing down, while the page of batons points upward with one finger; it's the practical, budget-wise woman and the man with his head in the clouds. Another deck has the King of Cups pointing up while the the King of Batons points to himself. There is also the Sola-Busca, assuming it was done c. 1491 as many think. Putti, grotesquely fat men and women, and people in bizarre situations with suit objects are always funny. These are all far from any "original" date, of course.

Re: Moakley's book: text and discussion

Due to her 'love child' Pope Joan could be considered a captive of Eros, it is also asthe ribald, carnivalesque Pope Joan I think that a Popesse appears in illustrations of Petrarch's triumphs (albeit she does not appear in the poem itself):

Image ... opess.html
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: Moakley's book: text and discussion

Two other ladies who have attributes like the Popess are Wisdom and the Virgin Mary.

For Wisdom (Sapientia in Latin), from a 13th century ms. in the Laurentian Library of Florence (featured in Andrea's essay "La Papessa"):


and for the Virgin, here are two, one with a 3 tiered crown and the other with 2 left, 1446, in the charter for the founding of King’s College, Cambridge, for which the Virgin was one of the College’s patron saints, posted by J. M. David on THF; on the right, by the Sienese painter Martino di Bartolomeo. c. 1400:


I myself see similarities between the Bembo depiction of the Popess and their depiction of the Virgin (with Christ similar to the Bagatella:

The Virgin was also frequently portrayed with a book, notably at the Annunciation.

It is possible that Wisdom and the Virgin were conflated by the Augustinians in Cremona, due to the doctrine of Mary's immaculate conception, which implied that she was pre-lapsarian (before the original sin). The only candidate is Wisdom, who was with God from the beginning. In the Bembo's version of the coronation of the Virgin, uniquely as far as I can tell, she was crowned by the Father at the same time as Christ, which then must be before she came to us. The pre-lapsarian status of the Virgin in relation to Bembo coronations (3 of them) is discussed by Tanzi in the 2013 Brera Catalog, p. 66.

Other figures with attributes of the PMB Popess are Prudence ( ... 6-pDET.jpg and Giotto's Fides ( ... aiatha.jpg).

These are all non-ribald associations, of course.

Re: Moakley's book: text and discussion

I am going to go on transcribing Moakley's text, this time the next four cards plus another suit: VI Temperance, VII Chariot, VIII Love, IX Fortitude, and the suit of Batons. She has pictures of these triumphs plus a few of the Batons. She sees the triumphs as the 2nd subgroup of the 8 cards bounded by the Cups and Batons marchers before and after:

[p. 74]
The virtue of Temperance is shown in the usual Renaissance way, as a woman pouring a liquid from one urn into another. Temperance is the first of a group of four cards representing the triumphant arrival of Cupid. Temperance and Fortitude accompany the Car and the Lovers who are attacked by Cupid. Although Temperance is the first and Fortitude the last of this four-card group, we may imagine them in an actual triumph as riding on the car together. Temperance with her urns is a feminine symbol, and Fortitude with his club is masculine. The sexual symbolism involved was by no means unconscious, for it appears again in the suit-cards of the tarocchi. The rules of play show us that the suits of Cups and Coins were thought of as feminine; in them the common cards rank from Ace high down to Ten low, with proper feminine humility. It is the other way round with the masculine suits of Swords and Staves. In the minchiate this appears even more plainly: the suits of Cups and Coins have a lady instead of a page or squire.

[start p. 75]
The idea that this is the first of a four-card group representing the car and its passengers is based on illustrations of actual triumphs such as those shown in Massena (Petrarque) and Schubring (Cassoni) and in Piero della Francesca's painting "The Triumph of Federigo of Urbino and his Wife Battista Sforza," where the Virtues ride on the two triumphal cars as I have imagined Temperance and Fortitude. Packs of minchiate, showing the ladies replacing the pages in the feminine suits, are to be found in museums having large collections of playing cards, and are shown in Hargrave (History). It was in the print collection of the Cooper Union in New York that I first noticed this feature of the minchiate.

[start p. 76]
Here is the triumphal car itself, driven by the same lady whom we see again in the next trump. It is drawn by two spirited winged white horses who seem proud of their task. In modern packs the Car follows the card of L'Amore, but in all the fifteenth-century lists it precedes it. The citizens of Milan wanted Francesco Sforza to make his solemn entry as their Duke in a triumphal car such as this. But he rejected the idea as a "kingly superstition." He had already enjoyed a spontaneous triumph of a different kind, when he entered Milan informally to respond to the invitation to become Duke. The joyous citizens pressed so close around him that it seemed as if they were carrying him through the city, horse and all. They went with him into the cathedral which the Milanese have always loved so much, still pressing so close that he had to pray on horseback. Triumphal cars still are an important feature of Italian festivals. In Florence, on Holy Saturday, one of these big cars is filled with fireworks and drawn by white oxen to the Duomo. While the Gloria is sung, an artificial dove runs along a wire to the car, carrying a spark of the new fire from the altar to set off the fireworks.

For Sforza's refusal of a triumphal entry see Ady (History) p 65 and Litta (Famiglie) I fasc 1, 2d pl of Sforza medals. For the informal triumph earlier see Ady p 60. For the car at Florence see Toor (Festivals) p 245

[start p. 77]
VIII L'AMORE (Love, The Lovers)
Blindfolded Cupid, standing on a pedestal to show that he is master of the situation, threatens with his darts the man and woman who stand before him. The interest they feel in each other is charmingly evident on their faces and in their attitudes. It is typical of the Milanese spirit that the card shows all the charm and none of the silliness of the courtly love tradition, in which the lover languishes and the lady's cold refusal is admired. The lovers here are probably Francesco Sforza and his young bride, Bianca Maria Visconti. The bride's dress bears the heraldic device of the Visconti sun, and the bridegroom's a design which suggests the Sforza dragon's webbed wings. In another set of tarocchi owned by either the Visconti or the Sforza family, this card has in the background a series of shields, on which the Visconti serpent alternates with the cross of Savoy. The lovers in that set would be either Filippo Maria Visconti and Bianca Maria of Savoy, or Galeazzo Maria Sforza and Bona of Savoy. In any case, it is said that the woman pictured is the same lady who drives the car of the seventh trump in that set.

For the heraldic devices on the dress of bride and groom see Litta (Famiglie), fascicles for the Sforza and Visconti families. The Visconti devices appear in great profusion in the Ufiziolo illuminated for Filippo Maria Visconti. For the card in which the bride is a lady of Savoy see Steele (Notice) p 190. The suggestion that she could be Bona of Savoy is mine alone, based on a genealogical table showing that she married Galeazzo Maria Sforza. Steele refutes Count Cicognara's statement that she is another bride of Filippo Maria's than the lady of Savoy. The question as to why Cupid is blindfolded is answered by Panofsky (Studies p 95ff) and Wind (Pagan p 56). One says it is because love is inferior to the intellect, and the other that it is because love is superior.

[start p. 78]
IX LA FORTEZZA. (Fortitude)
The virtue of Fortitude is here as a companion of the Car and of Love, balancing the virtue of Temperance which preceded those two cards. There are three ways in which Fortitude was usually shown, of which this is one. Another appears in the minchiate trumps: a woman holding a broken column. A third form, which we find in the modern tarot of Marseilles, is a woman closing a lion's jaws. A modern Swiss tarot pack, which has Juno and Jupiter instead of the Popess and Pope, like this one has a Hercules fighting a lion with a club. Hercules wears a dark blue tunic with a red scarf, sleeves, and stockings. His club is green with touches of gold. It is possible that as Ercolino (Little Hercules) he became the Arlecchino (Harlequin) of the later commedia dell'arte. In one of the comedies for Arlecchino there are lines about Cupid which could have originally been a carnival song for Ercolino to sing as he rode on the triumphal car. This is the last card in the group showing the triumph of Cupid. Fortune comes next, between the triumph of Cupid and the triumph of Death, as she dispenses joy and sorrow with the turn of her wheel.

The allegorical figures representing the cardinal virtues are some of the most usual in fifteenth-century art. They appear in tapestries, on tombs, and in pictures of triumphal processions, such as the "Triumph of Federigo of Urbino and Battista Sforza his Wife," by Piero della Francesca, where the cardinal Virtues sit on Federigo's triumphal car, and the theological Virtues (Faith, Hope, and Charity) on his wife's. An attentive walk through the Renaissance department of any museum will reveal at least one instance of the Virtues.

[start p. 79]
For the suggestion that Hercules and Harlequin are connected see Enci spett, art "Arlecchino," col go4. However, if Toschi (Origini, p 199) is correct in identifying Arlecchino with the Alichino who appeared in 1276 in Adam de la Halle's Jeu de la feuille, Arlecchino cannot have grown out of the tarocco Ercolino.

The lines for Arlecchino which might have been sung from Cupid's car are quoted in Enci spett, art "Arlecchino," col 908-909. They were written by Giorgio Maria Raparino, and begin: "Ora qua nostro Cupido / non minor del Dio di Cnido. . . ."

Arlecchino and Bagattino are both mentioned in a jingle by Raparini which enumerates twenty-four Carnival clowns: "Arlecchino, Truffaldino, / sia Pasquino, Tabarrino, / Tortellino, Naccherino, / Gradellino, Mezzetino, / Polpettino, Nespolino, / Bertolino, Fagiolino, / Trappolino, Zaccagnino, Trivellino, Traccagnino, Passerino, Bagattino, / Bagolino, Temellino, / Fagottino, Pedrolina, / Frittellino, Tabacchino." (Enci spett, art "Arlecchino," col 909.)

I BASTONI (Staves)
Next in the procession is the suit of Staves. At first sight it seems only to herald the Triumph of Fortune, but the Carnival crowd, eager to find a ribald meaning, will pair Staves and Cups in the same way as they paired the urns of Temperance and the club of Fortitude. So the Staves not only herald Fortune, they are also the followers of the Triumph of Love. Like the Kings and Queens of the other suits, those of the suit of Staves bear the same regal scepter as the Carnival King, the Emperor, and the Empress. Several of the suit cards bear the proud Visconti motto, "A bon droyt." The crossed legs of the King of Staves may be intended to suggest the Greek letter Chi. The legs of the King of Coins are similarly crossed. It may be fanciful to suggest that the letter Chi was meant to stand for "chrysos," the Greek word for gold. The equation of staves and coins as both meaning gold would, in this ribald context, suggest the old, old equation of gold and faeces.

[start p. 80]
Staves is a masculine suit; the Ten is highest of the number cards.

Note that the tack-hole in the Two of Staves is at the bottom, showing that it must have been hung upside down.

Scan of pp. 74-75 (Temperanza and notes): ... ge-004.jpg

Scan of pp. 76-77 (Carro, Amore and notes): ... ge-005.jpg

Scan of pp. 78-79 (Fortezza, Bastoni and notes): ... ge-006.jpg

Re: Moakley's book: text and discussion

My comments, explicating and updating Moakley:

1. Feminine Cups and Coins vs. masculine Batons and Swords is also present in the Cary-Yale, if Visconti heraldry=Bianca Maria and Sforza heraldry=Francesco. Perhaps minchiate got it from there (now that we have grounds for thinking it goes back to before 1466, for which see Pratesi "Elucibrations"). My vague recollection is that the masculine 10 high vs. feminine 10 low goes back very far, at least to the Mamluk decks. So maybe it is determined by the sexual symbolism after all, which I think can be seen in the King of Batons with his phallic middle finger, like in the Noblet Bateleur (below, colors restored by Flornoy). Some of these Ferrara/Venice decks (Kaplan vol. 2) have maids and pages.

As to why the feminine order goes from Ace high to 10 low, she attributes it to "feminine humility". I would think rather it is a joke coming from Muslim polygamy, that 10 women are 10 times worse than 1 woman, since you have to feed and clothe them and they bicker among themselves; but 10 soldiers can do 10 times the fighting of 1 soldier. Any other guesses?

2. In combining four cards into one scene, Moakley might have been inspired by a chariot card in one of the Metropolitan sheets (catalog number 31.54.159), below, which I myself wonder if an Orphic medallion might have inspired; but I have no idea if that medallion was available then. I know another famous one, of Phanes in the egg, is now in the d'Este Library in Modena. I posted the image below at; Phaeded posted the whole medallion in the next post.


It has Cupid (it seems to be a wing rather than a banner) on a chariot with the loving couple below, thus combining two motifs. Moakley's imagination supplies the rest, notably Temperance and Fortitude.

3. Moakley says of the PMB Love card, "the bride's dress bears the heraldic device of the Visconti sun, and the bridegroom's a design which suggests the Sforza dragon's webbed wings." I can't see the Sforza dragon's wings. Help, anybody.

In the Cary-Yale, the Sforza fountain was on the groom's chest, so it makes sense.

4. Moakley says of the CY card,
The lovers in that set would be either Filippo Maria Visconti and Bianca Maria of Savoy, or Galeazzo Maria Sforza and Bona of Savoy.
and adds in the note,
For the card in which the bride is a lady of Savoy see Steele (Notice) p 190. The suggestion that she could be Bona of Savoy is mine alone, based on a genealogical table showing that she married Galeazzo Maria Sforza. Steele refutes Count Cicognara's statement that she is another bride of Filippo Maria's than the lady of Savoy.
Well, it's nice to know that it was Moakley who first suggested Galeazzo and Bona. Usually it is given to Angieri, 1981.
The suggestion was decisively refuted, in my opinion, by Dummett in Il Mondo e l'Angelo. Among other things, he says, to my mind the best argument (see viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1019&p=15152&hilit=Bona#p15152):
... it would not be a great compliment to a woman to have emblems of Savoy painted on a single card, and other cards were full of those of the Visconti and Sforza...
Cigognara's suggestion was that the shield was that of the city of Pavia (Dummett, Visconti-Sforza Tarot Cards, p. 14). Dummett says that Angieri agreed with Cigognara (apparently she supported both Bona of Savoy and the heraldry of Pavia), as did Ron Decker. Kaplan concluded that the wedding commemorated was that of Bianca Maria and Francesco Sforza.

It is true that Galeazzo Maria was Count of Pavia at the time, and Francesco wasn't, until after Filippo's death (Ady, A History of Milan Under the Sforza, 1907, p. 41, as Phaeded notes at viewtopic.php?f=11&t=862&p=18081&hilit= ... unt#p18081); but Dummett decisively refuted the idea, noting that there is no Savoy heraldry in Cups and Coins as we would expect, only Visconti. Also, why would Galeazzo put Visconti coins on the Coin cards? (Dummett says they are slightly bigger than the actual coins but otherwise identical; but if so, no one to my knowledge ever produced images of the corresponding coins, as Marco showed for what he could find at viewtopic.php?f=11&t=917&p=13798&hilit=rearing#p13807).

However the pairs of banners, first one and then the other, match the pairs of suits, with groom's heraldry paired with bride's heraldry; and if it is a marriage tent, why would two banners for the groom be displayed and none for the groom? Well, it could be said, at least he has his heraldic on his chest. Another explanation might be that except for the fountain, it is a generic card that Filippo had used on other occasions, adding heraldics depending on the occasion. The Brera-Brambilla is another example, albeit one with 14 cards per regular suit rather than 16. If its first use was after his own marriage to Maria of Savoy, then it could be expected to have a Savoy banner alternating with a Visconti one. Perhaps that deck had Savoy heraldry in Cups and Coins. His father Giangaleazzo had also married a Savoy, that one named Bianca, another reason for supposing Savoy (his daughter being Bianca Maria). Well, it is either Savoy or Pavia or both. But the CY is rather clearly from 1441-1444 (the birth of the couple's firstborn), based on Tanzi's comparison with known Bembo art of the time in the 2013 Brera catalog.

5. The blindfold could signify that love is both above and below the intellect, depending on whether it is heavenly love or earthly love. Then there is Shakespeare, disagreeing with both (Midsummer night's dream):
Love looks not with the eyes but with the mind.
And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.
6. As to the prominence of the virtues, what is important is what was prominent in the tarot cities before 1440 (or 1450, for the PMB). Phaeded has shown how the 7 virtues were prominent in Florence; they were also a subject for at least one pre-1440 cassone there. In 1442 they were on a float in a triumphal parade for Alfonso in Naples, in which Florence took part. In Visconti Milan, there was the Song of the Virtues and Liberal Arts, part of the property of Luciano Visconti that was seized by the Milan Viscontis in the 14th century, later property of the archbishop. The 7 or 4 were standard illuminations and church reliefs; the four cardinals were often put in the corners of manuscript illuminations. In the Sforza Castle Museum there is a nice Visconti-era relief of the four cardinal virtues (I have photo somewhere). For Borso d'Este in Ferrara, Justice was pre-eminent. He had a statue of himself done with Justice's attributes.

7 Cnidus is where a famous statue of the nude Aphrodite was said to have been, attracting numerous visitors in ancient times. I am not sure how to translate the line from the song: perhaps "Now here our Cupid / no less than the God of Cnidus" (literally, not less of the God of Cnidus).

8. The Marseille deck's lady with a lion in fact corresponds to the way Fortitude is shown on the earlier Cary-Yale deck. But a club does make the virtue correspond to Staves, and Hercules is eminently suitable to put on a triumphal chariot of Love as one of the captives. He made it through the 12 labors and then was killed by his bride's tricks. Strong men are inevitable objects of satire, even if the ribald Harlequin is not descended from Hercules (although he does usually carry a stick, like Hercules' club). Women (as with Samson) or clever men (like Othello's Iago, in the Italian story) always lay strong men low. Moakley mentions Hercules on the Force card of a modern Swiss deck (it is the Muller). An earlier example, it seems to me, might be that of the "Grand-Pretre" deck of post-de Gebelin France. (Kaplan vol 1 p. 164 vol. 2, p. 337; Hargrave, pp. 34-37). If not Hercules, it is a very masculine-looking lady.

Moakley's association of the PMB's Fortitude with Staves is supported by the Beinecke Library's assignment of the Cary-Yale cataloguers' (of unknown date, but by the 1980s) of that virtue to the same suit ( As to whether the cataloguer could have been influenced by Moakley (1966), I will wait until the end of the book to discuss.

9. the Kings' crossed legs in Staves and Coins. That gold is in faeces was a saying in alchemy, perhaps also in metallurgy, as the acids made from sulfur kind of stank. I am not familiar with the letter Chi/X being associated with gold in that context. Or any context. Europeans didn't know Greek in the Middle Ages. It was associated with Christ, but that happened during the Roman Empire when people did know Greek. But neither has to do with crossed legs on some of the kings. It was associated with judges. Panofsky, in his book on Durer, discussing an engraving of Christ holding the scales of justice, says
This attitude, denoting a calm and superior state of mind, was actually prescribed to judges in ancient German law-books.
The king of Staves is pictured with a scepter of authority. He passes judgment. As for why it's on the King of Coins, well, perhaps dealing with money was thought to require a calm mind. What might be slightly ribald on the Staves court cards, I think, are the green sleeves. See Wikipedia (, particularly its reference to the Italian form of composition of a song in Elizabethan times. The Queen of Cups, Empress and Charioteer also have such sleeves. However it might simply have been a conventional symbol of fertility.

Re: Moakley's book: text and discussion

[start p. 86]
X LA RUOTA (The Wheel of Fortune)
Fortune is shown here in her most common form, with the revolving wheel and four human figures. According to a medieval epigram, the one on the way up is growing a pair of ass ears, and is saying "Regnabo" (I shall reign). The one on top has full-grown ass ears, holds the rod of a ruler, and is saying "Regno" (I reign). The figure on the way down has lost his ass ears, but acquired a tail. He is saying "Regnavi" (I reigned). The lowliest of the group, the man at the bottom, is the only fully human figure of the four. His words are "Sum sine regno" (I am without reign). Fortune herself has a pair of golden wings, and that expression of blissful unawareness of which Dante writes in his description of her:
But she is blissful and she does not hear;
She, with the other primal creatures, gay
Tastes her own blessedness, and turns her sphere.
Between the triumphs of Love and Death,
Fortune turns her wheel and dispenses both joy and sorrow.

The more sophisticated Italians of the Renaissance would find a deeper meaning in the idea that Fortune points to the equivalence of the two seemingly opposite triumphs: to Eros as the god both of love and of death. The beautiful story of Psyche and Eros, well-known at that time, was related to the idea of Hypneros, the funerary Eros pictured with legs crossed and torch held downward. Lorenzo de' Medici referred to "that death in the sense in which lovers are said to die, when they are entirely transformed into the object of their love."

[start p. 87]
Dante's Inferno, Canto VII, lines 94-96, is quoted from Dorothy Sayers' translation, by permission of the publisher, Penguin Books. For Fortune see Patch (Goddess). The medieval idea of Fortune's wheel is drawn from Boethius' Consolation of Philosophy, book II, in which Fortune has a long talk with the author. She says: "Rotam volubili orbe versamus infima summis, summa infimis mutare gaudemus. Ascende, si placet, sed ea lege, uti ne, cum ludicri mei ratio poscet, descendere injuriam pates." The idea is strikingly like the Buddhist idea of the wheel of birth and death to which men cling, thereby creating their own sorrow and pain, and may ultimately have sprung from it. There was a corresponding idea that the practice of virtue made Fortune more friendly. "Duce virtute comite Fortuna" is the motto on a medal in Litta (Famiglie) II pt 1, fasc XVII, tav XXI fig 6. On a piece of faience of the Renaissance period Fortune is shown surrounded by Justice, Fortitude, and Prudence, with the Greek motto: "He Tyche akolouthos esti tes aretes" (Fortune is the follower of virtue) (Alexander Speltz, The Coloured Ornament of all Historical Styles, Leipzig, K. F. Koehlers Antiquarium 1914-15, na pl 2,4 fig 3). In the strife between Fortune and Poverty in Boccaccio's De casibus (bk III, ch I), Poverty wins and makes Fortune bind Misery to a pillar. In Gentilshommes campagnards de l'ancienne France, by Pierre de Vaissiere (Paris 1925, p 35), we read of a man who had engraved over an entrance door "Inveni portum; spes et fortuna valete" (I have found harbor; hope and fortune, farewell).

In Dante's time it was said that Fortune's wheel has eight parts: umilta, pazienza, pace, ricchezza, superbia, ira pazienza, guerra, poverta, in which each state of life is across the wheel from its opposite. (Ancona, Uomo, p 12.) Pope Pius II said of Francesco Sforza that he was the only man of his time whom Fortune loved (Memoirs of a
Renaissance Pope
, tr by Florence A. Gragg New York, Putnam 1959, p 129).

An epigram known about Fortune in the Middle Ages is quoted in Ancona (Uomo) p 13: "Cursus Fortune variatur in more lune: / Crescit, decrescit et eodem sistere nescit. / Elevor in primis, regno tuo utor, in imis / aufero ecce nimis: raro distant ultima / regnabo, regno, regnavi, sum sine regno."

Besides the wheel, Fortune is sometimes shown standing on a ball and carrying a sail. She appears thus in some of the illustrations for Petrarch's Triumph of Chastity. Here the allusion is to the wind, for in Italian various degrees of storm at sea are known as fortuna, fortuna di vento, fortunate, fortunalone. (Niccolo Tommaseo, Nuevo dizionario de' sinonimi della lingua italiana, Napoli 1935, p 1093; in a footnote he reminds us that for Horace Fortune was "domina aequorum.")

The equivalence of love and death was an idea which came to the Renaissance by way of the classical mysteries (Wind, Pagan, p 93). It is the theme of Colonna's famous Hypnerotomachia Poliphili. The thought may be related to the loss of the illusory ego in sexual union, as in death, which is so well described in Watts (Nature), ch 8: "Consummation." Van Eyck's painting, "The Marriage of the Arnolfini," contemporary with the Sforza, seems to me a portrait of a man acquainted with this notion.

Wind (Pagan, p a.33ff) tells us that Hypneros, the funerary Eros pictured with legs crossed and torch held downward, is related. to the beautiful story of Eros and Psyche in the Golden Ass of Apuleius; which was well known in medieval and Renaissance times (Haight, Apuleius, p 111ff), He quotes Lorenzo de' Medici: Natura insegna a not temer la morte, ma / Amor poi mirabilmente face/suave a' suoi quel ch'e ad ogni altro amaro," and more plainly: "intendendo questa morte nella forma che abbiamo detto morire. li amanti, quando tutti nella cosa amata si trasformono."

[start p. 88]
I DENARI (Coins ) The Suit of Coins heralds the Triumph of Death, but with the symbolic reference of the other suits, it also points forward to the preceding Triumph. In this case, it is the Triumph of Fortune, who deals out gold with one turn of her wheel, and blows with the next. The contrast is more evident in the specific reference to the traitor, or Hanged Man, in the triumph of Death. "Il Traditore" is being punished because he has betrayed his lawful lord for gold.

The Queen of Coins has a robe decorated with designs identical to those on the robe of Fortune. The King's legs are crossed, perhaps to stand for the Greek letter Chi, which looks like an X and means "chrysos" — gold.

The Ace bears a shield on its face, party per pale. This is not a heraldic device of the Visconti-Sforza family. However, the faces of the other coins bear the Visconti sun, and several of the Coins have the motto "A bon droyt"; the Three has cruder suns.

On the feminine suits of Cups and Coins the devices of the Visconti family are emphasized. This audacious tribute, probably to the Visconti bride, leads to the conclusion that the cards may represent a Carnival held soon after the wedding of Francesco Sforza and Bianca Maria Visconti, or even to the possibility that the cards themselves were a wedding present to this couple.


Coins is a feminine suit; the Ace is highest of the common cards.

The Knight of Coins is lost from the Visconti-Sforza set; this card is from an uncut sheet of fifteenth or sixteenth-century tarocchi in The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Bequest of James C. McGuire, 1931, number 31.54.159.

Scan of pp. 80-81 (Ruota, Denari and notes): ... ge-010.jpg

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