Moakley's book, article & now correspondence with Panofsky

Dummett, Decker, Depaulis, Kaplan; here we document the people, places, and events that shaped Tarot History. (Credentials not required; but references, citations, and substantiating evidence may be requested at the door.)

Moakley's book, article & now correspondence with Panofsky

Postby mikeh on 24 Feb 2017, 09:16

On April 2, 2017, I changed the title of the thread to reflect recent additions, namely, Moakley's 1956 article (see viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1168&p=19363#p19253) preceding her book, and secondly her correspondence with the noted art historian Erwin Panofsky relative to both the article and the book (starting viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1168&p=19363#p19363).

This thread is a continuation of viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1167 and viewtopic.php?f=11&t=20.

On the latter thread, Michael J. Hurst quoted from another forum Robert O'Neill's report of a conversation with Stuart Kaplan of August 31, 1999 about republishing Moakley's book:
In the course of a conversation, I asked if he intended to republish and he answered that it wasn't commercially viable. But the context of the conversation was his current activities and his plans to make his collection/library available. His current activities involve finishing a novel he is writing and finishing Volume 4 of the Encyclopedia. So his answer may be influenced by his own priorities. Also, I don't think he sees himself as the person best qualified to do the updating and modifications in the book that would be needed. So i think his emphasis is more on making the material accessible to scholars who would do the work and republish the material.

Given that intent and the lack of follow-up since, I take this as my permission to make the material, such as we have, accessible to scholars and to do some of the work in republishing, at least on the internet. I am happy to work on what needs to be updated, which I don't think is very much. (If it were a lot, I probably wouldn't go to this effort.) I also invite others to join in. If any copyright holder protests this sharing of material, I will regretfully remove it.

I will start at the beginning of the book, i.e. with what is sometimes called the "front matter". By including the Table of Contents, I can later, as I go, add links to the various elements in it. In this post I will also include the Preface, pp. 10-11 of the book. Comments in brackets are mine. On the title page, the first three words are each on their own line, in very large type, and all the lines are centered.



[new page, unnumbered]

Published with help from the
Emily Ellsworth Ford Skeel Fund

Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 65-18551
Copyright 1966 by The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations

Designed by Bernard Etter and Barbara Beri,
Composed in the Printing Office of the New York
Public Library, printed by offset and bound by
Edwards Brothers, Inc. Ann Arbor, Michigan

[new page, unnumbered]


[page left blank]

[new page, unnumbered]


Preface .... 10 [below, in this post]

Undocumented Prelude 13


1. The Cards and their Maker 19

2 The Cicognara Mix-up 27

3. The Family for whom the Cards were Made 35

4. Triumphs and the Game of Triumphs 43

5. The Death of Carnival 55


The Procession 61

i. Il Bagatino (Quarterpenny, the Juggler) 62

[new page, unnumbered]

Le Coppe (Cups) 64

II. L'Imperatrice (The Empress) 70

III. L'Imperadore (The Emperor) 71

IV. La Papessa (The Popess)
72 viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1168&p=19093#p19094

V. II Papa (The Pope) 73

VI. La Temperanza (Temperance) 74

VII. Il Carro (The Car) 76

VIII. L'Amore (Love, The Lovers) 77

IX. La Fortezza ( Fortitude) 78

I Bastoni (Staves) 79

X. La Ruota (The Wheel of Fortune) 86

I Danari (Coins) 88

XI. II Gobbo (The Hunchback, Time) 94

XII Il Traditore (The Traitor, The Hanged Man) 95

XIII La Morte (Death) 96

[unnumbered page]
XIV. Il Diavolo (The Devil) 98

XV La Casa del Diavolo (The Devil's House, The Tower) 99

Le Spade (Swords) 100

XVI. La Stella (The Star) 106

XVII La Luna (The Moon) 108

XVIII Il Sole (The Sun) 109

XIX L'Agnolo (The Angel, The judgment) 110

XX La Justicia (Justice) 111

XXI II Mondo (The World) 112
NOTES. 112

Il Matto (The Fool) 113

Bibliography 117

EDITOR’S NOTE: The scattered tarot cards were photographed for reproduction under varying conditions; light reflecting from the gold leaf at different angles caused differences in contrast which we have made every effort to minimize.

[page 10]

THIS STUDY began almost as a matter of chance. I am a library cataloger, and I wanted to find out how well a library catalog serves the researcher, and whether anything about it needed improvement. I determined to become a researcher for a few weeks, and find out what. I wanted to know from actual experience.

Any subject would have done as well as another, but books on the tarot had been given me to catalog, and when I looked into them I was not satisfied with their treatment of the subject. Surely a few weeks of research would uncover a serious book or article on the tarot by some qualified art historian, and I would have had the experience I desired.

However, the weeks passed and the most thorough digging turned up nothing at all of any worth. By this time my curiosity had become almost unbearable, and my original purpose was lost in the determination to find the answers to all my questions about the tarot.

The Visconti-Sforza tarot, or rather tarocchi (since they are Italian) soon came to my attention. Photographs of these cards became my constant companions, and I looked for their meaning with ardent fervor. At first I barked up all the wrong trees: were they connected with magic? alchemy? witchcraft? Were they some kind of secret code? It gradually became clear to me that they were more related to the literary works of their time than to any of these other things; yet I could not find any such work which told the same story as the tarot cards. At last I found two tapestries in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, depicting the Triumph of Fame and the Triumph of Time, as Petrarch had described them in his poem I Trionfi. Here I had the lead at last.

But there was more that I wanted to know about the Visconti-Sforza tarocchi. What did the first of the tarocchi trumps represent? It did not seem to have anything to do with Petrarch's poem. Why were the Pope and a Popess among the victims of Cupid's triumph? What were those devices embroidered upon the robes of the Emperor and Empress, and what did they mean? In short, I wanted to know as much as I could possibly discover of the meaning the cards had for the family which originally owned them.

I think I have now found as many answers as I can hope to find, and offer them here for the satisfaction of any other people who may be as curious as I was.

A great deal of this information would never have come to me with-

[start p. 12]
out the help of a number of people, whom I want to thank here. First of all, the great and generous Professor Erwin Panofsky, for his help and support when I was writing the essay out of which the present book grew — "The Tarot Trumps and Petrarch's Trionfi," in the Bulletin of The New York Public Library of February 1956 — and for an important lead to the constitution of one of the earliest, of the Ludi triumphorum. I am also indebted to Professor Maurice G. Kendall for the significance of the number cards in the four ordinary suits of the tarocchi, to Professor Archer Taylor for calling my attention to the tarot riddle in Straparola's Facetious Nights, to Professor Guido Kisch for new information about the Hanged Man, and to Professor Allan H. Gilbert for reading the present book and suggesting a number of needed changes.

My colleagues in The New York Public Library have also greatly helped. I cannot name them all, but I must express particular thanks to Elizabeth Roth, Leo M. Mladen, Elizabeth M. Hajos, Patricia Spindler, and Maud D. Cole, for much help, and to William Sloan who photographed some of the cards. In other libraries and museums several librarians and curators have given me help without which my search would have been much longer. Of these I want especially to thank E. Maurice Bloch, formerly Keeper of Drawings and Prints at the Cooper Union Museum, Alice Newlin and Janet Byrne of the Prints Department of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and Dr John Plummer, the Curator of Manuscripts at the Pierpont Morgan Library. I wish to thank the following publishers for allowing me to quote from their publications: Penguin Books, for permission to quote from Dorothy Sayers' translation of Dante's Inferno, International Universities Press, for permission to quote from The Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, and Alfred A. Knopf for permission to quote from The Gentleman and the Jew, by Maurice Samuel. Finally I wish to thank the owners of the Visconti-Sforza cards, the Pierpont Morgan Library, Dott. Comm. Ippolito Pipia, President of the Academy of Fine Arts in Bergamo, the Accademia Carrara of Bergamo, and Conti Colleoni, for permission to reproduce photographs of the cards, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art for permission to reproduce photographs of the three old printed tarocchi which have been used to give some idea of the lost cards of the Visconti-Sforza set.
[start p. 12]


In general, any book listed in the bibliography is cited in the notes by the last name of the author and the first important word of the title, enclosed in parentheses. For instance, "Patch (Goddess)" will be found in the bibliography as "Patch, Howard Rollin, The Goddess Fortuna in Mediaeval Literature. Cambridge, Harvard University Press, 1927."

Other abbreviations:

Arch. stor. lomb..... Archivio storico Lombardo
Enci. Ital.... Enciclopedia italiana
Enci. spett. ...Enciclopedia dello spettacolo
Location: Oregon USA
Favorite Deck: Conver/Noblet & Sola-Busca pips

Re: Moakley's book: text and discussion

Postby mikeh on 24 Feb 2017, 10:17


I have just a couple of comments thus far. First, we should not assume that the order in which Moakley presents the triumphs is what she thinks is the "original order". She is using Garzoni and Bertoli (except, however, for the Fool, which they do not mention, at least according to the table in Game of Tarot), she will say later, because the words are closest to modern Italian. Otherwise she mentions the Steele Sermon's list (which does list the Fool last), and that of am uncut sheet in the Metropolitan Museum. They are are all what today we would call the "Eastern" or "B" order. She does not appear to know of the Rosenwald sheet in Washington, D.C., or of the Cary Sheet in New Haven, early examples of what would today be called the "Southern" or "A" order and the "Western" or "C" order. She does know the minchiate. We will have to see later if she considers the order of those triumphs it has in common with tarocchi a candidate for its "original" order.

Instead of going directly to the next section, the "Undocumented Prelude", I want to give the end-matter, which in this book, since there is no index, is the Bibliography. It starts on p. 117 and goes to p. 124. My reason for putting it next is that Moakley has a good deal of documentation for her exposition, most of it given in the Notes. To evaluate her work we have to know the extent and value of her documentation. So we might as well have it at the beginning, for easy reference when the time comes.

I ran the text through an OCR program (they are free on the web) and proofread it twice. There were more errors than usually occur, first because the type is smaller, second because it is in a variety of languages, with little context to tell the program which word out of various possibilities, and third because there are lots of numbers, which are hard for the OCR program, again because it cannot weed out possibilities. I proofread the result three times and hopefully got most of the errors. If you can't find something, check my scans, which are as follows:

p. 117: ... ge-009.jpg

pp. 118-119: ... ge-010.jpg

pp. 120-121: ... ge-011.jpg

pp. 122-123: ... ge-012.jpg

p. 124: ... ge-013.jpg

Comments in brackets are mine unless otherwise indicated.

[Start p. 117]

Ady, Cecilia Mary. A History of Milan under the Sforza. New York, Putnam 1907

Alciati, Andrea. Emblematum flumen abundans. Manchester, Pub. for the Holbein Soc. by A. Brothers 1871. (Photolith facsimile of the Lyons ed by Bonhomme, 1551)

Allemagne, Henry R. d'. Les cartes a jouer. Paris, Hachette 1906. 2 vols. ("Le jeu de tarots": I 179ff)

Ancona, Paolo d'. La miniature italienne du Xe au XVIe siecle. Paris, G. van Oest 1925

The Schifanoia Months at Ferrara. Milan, Edizioni del Milione 1954

L'uomo e le sue opere, nelle figurazioni italiane del Medioevo. Firenze, "La Voce" 1923

Angiolini, Francesco. Vocabolario milanese-italiano. Torino 1897

"Annales mediolanenses." In Muratori, L. A., ed Rerum italicarum scriptores, 1st ed; vol xvi (Milan 1730) col 738

Appolonio, Mario. Storia del tentro italiano. Firenze, Sansoni 1938-50. 4 vols, of which the first two cover our period

ArsIan, E. "L'architettura milanese del primo Cinquecento." Storia di Milano, vol VIII. Milano, Fondazione Treccani degli Alfieri 1957

Arte lombarda dai Visconti agli Sforza [mostra] Palazzo Reale, Milano, aprile-giugno 1958. Milano, Silvana 1958

Assum, Clemente. Francesco Sforza. Torino, Societa Subalpina Editrice 1945

Bacon, Francis. Selected Writings. New York, Modern Library 1955

Bagatti Valsecchi di Belvignate, Fausto. La casa artistica italiana. Milano 2918. pl CXLIV, CXLV, LXXVIII

Baltrusaitis, Jurgis. Le moyen age fantastique. Paris, A. Colin 1955

Baroni, C, and S. Samek Ludovici. La pittura lombarda del Quattrocento. Messina, G. D'Anna 1952. ("Bonifacio e Benedetto Bembo": p 91ff, esp p 107-116 — transcriptions of documents by or about Bembo)

Beard, Miriam. A History of the Business Man. New York, Macmillan 1938

Berenson, Bernard. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance. Oxford, Clarendon Press 1953

Bernardino, Saint. "Sermo XLII" (in his Opera. Venice 1591). Cited and quoted in Steele, Robert, "A Notice . . ." p 196 (see below)

[start p. 138]
Bernheimer, Richard. Wild Men in the Middle Ages. Cambridge, Harvard Univ Press 1952

Bertoni, G. Poesie leggende costumanze del medio evo. Modena 1917. (Tarocchi versificati p. 220)

Boiardo (or Bojardo), Matteo Maria, conte di Scandiano. Tutte le opere, Milano, A. Mondadori 1936-37. 2 vols. (His design for a novel set of tarocchi, in two sonnets and 78 terzine, one for each card, is in II 702-716)

Boll, Franz Johannes, and Carl Bezold. Sternglaube and Sterndeutung. Leipzig, B. G. Teubner 1926.

Bordigallo, Domenico. Le cronache di Cremona. (One of Count Cicognara's discredited sources)

Bottari, S. "I tarocchi di Castello Ursino di Bonifacio Bembo." Emporium CXIV (Sept 1951) 110-124

Bragaglia, Anton Giulio. Pulcinella. Roma, G. Casini 1953

British Museum. Catalogue of the Collection of Playing Cards. London 1901

Catalogue of the Collection of Playing Cards Bequeathed to the Trustees of the
British Museum by the late Lady Charlotte Schreiber
. London, Longmans [etc) 1901

A Descriptive Catalogue of Playing and Other Cards. London 1876

Brizio, A. M. La moda in cinque secoli di pittura. (Catalogo della Mostra). Torino [1951? 1952?] Cited in Arte lombarda dai Visconti agli Sforza, p 179 and p 85

Brunetti da Corinaldo, Francesco Saverio. Giochi delle minchiate, ombre, scacchi, ed altri d'ingegno. Roma 1747

Burckhardt, Jacob. The Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy. London, G. Allen; New York, Macmillan 1915

Carnival of Rome; its origin, history and official program for 1891. [Rome? 1891?).

Castelli, Enrico. Il demoniaco nell'arte. Milano, Electa [1952?]

Chartrou, Josephe. Les entrées solennelles et tiomphales a la Renaissance. Paris, Les Presses universitaires de France 1928

Chatto, William Andrew. Facts and Speculations on the Origin and History of Playing Cards. London, J. R. Smith 1848

Cicognara, Leopoldo, conte. Memorie spettanti la storia della calcografia. Prato 1831

Clark, James Midgley. The Dance of Death in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance. Glasgow, Jackson 1950

Clerici, Graziano Paolo. "Il Pezzana, it Toschi, i1 Cicognara." La Bibliofilia xix (1917-18) 97-113

Collison-Morley, Lacy. The Story of the Sforzas. London 1933

Colonna, Francesco. Poliphili hypnerotomachia. London, Methuen 1904. (Facsimile reproduction of the first edition of 1499)

Corio, Bernardino. Storia di Milano. In Vinetia, Presso Giorgio de' Cavalli 1565

Cotterill, H. B. Italy from Dante to Tasso. New York 1919

[start p. 119]
Court de Gebelin, Antoine. "Du jeu des tarots," in his Monde primitif (Paris 1787-88) VIII 365-410 and plates

Cronica di Milano dal 948 at 1487. (Exposed as worthless in Arch stor lomb, anno XIX 245ff )

Culin, Stewart. Chess and Playing Cards. Washington, U. S. Govt Print Off 1898

Dance of Death. The Dance of Death, by Hans Holbein, with an introduction and notes by James M. Clark. London, Phaidon Press 1947

"De Sphaera" (Latin ms) see Reale Biblioteca Estense, Modena

Decembrio, Petro Candido. "Philippi Mariae Vicecomitis mediolanensium ducis tertii vita." Cap LXI: "De variis ludendi modis" in Muratori, L. A., ed Rerum italicarum scriptores xx (1731) col 1013

De Roover, Raymond. The Medici Bank. New York, New York Univ Press 1948

D'Otrange, M. L. "Thirteen Tarot Cards from the Visconti-Sforza Set." Connoisseur (March 1954) 54-69. These cards are duplicates or copies of the Visconti-Sforza set, including two or three cards of a different design, notably one with the heraldic serpent. They were all at one time the property of Mr Piero Tozzi of New York City, who still owns some of them.

Durer, Albrecht, and others. The Triumphal Arch. 4th ed Vienna 1799. (A huge print made up of 192 separate woodcuts fitted together)

Durrieu, P. "Michelin da Besozzo." Institut de France. Academie des Inscriptions et Belles Lettres. Memoires ( 1911) xxxviii 2 ptie p 376 [online at ... _38_2_1596. That article refers to another, 1895, p. 117 at ... h/Durriere, which is the first known mention of Marcello's letter.]

Eliade, Mircea. Birth and Rebirth. New York, Harper 1958

Enciclopedia dello spettacolo. Roma, Casa Editrice Le Maschere 1954-1962. g vols

Enciclopedia italiana di scienze, lettere ed arti. Milano, Istituto Giovanni Treccani 1929-38. 35 vols

Essling, Prince d' see Massena, Victor, prince d'Essling

Evans, Joan. Pattern. Oxford, Clarendon Press 1931. 2 vols

Filelfo. Prose e poesie volgari. (Reale Deputazione di Storia Patria der le Marche. Atti e memorie, vol v 1901)

Frazer, Sir James George. The New Golden Bough. New York, Criterion Books 1959. A new abridgment with additional notes, by T. H. Caster

Freedley, George. A History of the Theatre. New York, Crown Publishers 1955

Freud, Sigmund. Dreams in Folklore. New York, International Universities Press 1958

Fuchs, A. Die Ikonographie der sieben Planeten in der Kunst Italiens bis zum Ausgang des Mittelalters

Grazzini, Antonio Francesco, called Il Lasca. Tutti i trionfi, carri, mascherate o canti carnascialeschi andati per Firenze dal tempo del magnifica Lorenzo de' Medici fino all' anno 1559. Lucca 1750

Gregorovius, Ferdinand Adolf. History of the City of Rome in the Middle Ages. London, G. Bell 1902-09. 8 vols in 13

Grillot de Givry, Emile Angelo. Anthology of Witchcraft, Magic, & Alchemy. Chicago, University Books 1958

[start p. 120]
Gualazzini, U. "Contributo alla question Dragoniana." Atti della Reale Accademia delle Scienze di Torino (May 1931) 402.

Haight, Elizabeth Hazelton. Apuleius and his Influence. New York, Longmans 1927

Hargrave, Catherine Perry. A History of Playing Cards and a Bibliography of Cards and Gaming. Boston, Houghton 1930

Hauber, Anton. Planetenkinderbilder und Sternbilder zur Geschichte des menschlichen Gloubens und Irrens. Strassburg, J. H. E. Heitz 1916

Hauser, Arnold. The Social History of Art. New York, Knopf 1951. 2 vols

Heidelberger Liederbandschrift, Grosse. Minnesanger; achtzehn farbige Wiedergaben aus der Manessischen Liederhandschrift. Baden-Baden, W. Klein 1953

Heubach, Dittmar, ed. Der Belial. Strassburg, J. H. Ed. Heitz 1927. Has 33 15th-century drawings for a legend about the Devil

Hind, Arthur Mayger. Catalogue of Early Italian Engravings. London, British Museum, 1910. "E. I. Series of Fifty Instructive Prints (erroneously called the Tarocchi cards of Mantegna)” p 17-25

Early Italian Engraving. London, Pub for M. Knoedler & Co, New York, by B
Quaritch 1938-48. 2 vols in 7

Hopper, Vincent Foster. Medieval Number Symbolism. New York, Columbia Univ Press 1938

Huizinga, J. Homo ludens. Boston, Beacon Press 1955

The Waning of the Middle Ages. Garden City, Doubleday

Jonas, Hans. The Gnostic Religion. Boston, Beacon Press 1958

Kendall, Maurice G. "Studies in the History of Probability and Statistics: II. The Beginnings of a Probability Calculus." Biometrika XI-III (1956) pt 1-2 p 1-14

Kennard, Joseph Spencer. The Italian Theatre. New York, W. E. Rudge 1932. 2 vols

Kisch, Guido. "The 'Jewish Execution' in Medieval Germany and the Reception of Roman Law." Studi in memoria di Paolo Koschaker L'Europa e il diritto roman (Milano 1955) lI 65-93

— — An earlier version of the same paper in Historia Judaica V (1943) 103-132

Kolb, Jenki. Old Playing Cards. Budapest, Hungaria Print Off 1940

Kurtz, Leonard P. The Dance of Death and the Macabre Spirit in European Literature. New York, Institute of French Studies, Columbia University 1934

Lacroix, Paul. Manners, Customs, and Dress during the Middle Ages and During the Renaissance Period. London, Chapman and Hall 1876

Lea, Henry C., ed. Materials Toward a History of Witchcraft. Univ of Pennsylvania Press 1939. Note absence of tarot and cartomancy

Lea, K. M. Italian Popular Comedy; a study in the commedia dell'arte. Oxford, Clarendon Press 1934. 2 vols 1954

Linde, Antonius van der. Geschichte und Literatur des Schachspiels. Berlin, J. Springer; 1874. 2 vols ("Schach im Kartenspiel?": II 375-391)

Lippmann, Friedrich. Seven Planets. London, Asher; New York, H. Wunderlich 1895

Litta, Ponapeo, conte. Famiglie celebri italiane. Milano, Presso l’autore 1819-85

Longhi, R. "Me pinxit." I resti del polittico di Cristoforo Moretti. La restituzione di un trittico d'arte cremonese (Pinacotheca I 17-33, 55-87)

Malaguzzi-Valeri, P. La corte di Lodovico it Moro. Milano 1913-23. 4 Vols

Marie, Raimond van. The Development of the Italian Schools of Painting. The Hague, Nijhoff, 1923-28. 19 vols, of which vol VII is the most important for our subject

— — Iconographie de l’art profane au Moyen-dge at de la Renaissance. La Haye, M. Nijhoff 1931-32. 2 vols, of which vol II is important for our subject

Massena, Victor, prince d'Essling. Petrarque. Paris, Gazette des Beaux-Arts 1902

Maximilian I, Emperor of Germany, 1459-1519. Kaiser Maximilians I Gebetbuch. Wien, Selbstverlag des Herausgebers (Karl Giehlow) 1907

Merlin, Romain. Origine des cartes a jouer. Paris, l'auteur 1869

Milan. Palazzo reale. Arte Lombarda see Arte lombarda dai Visconti agli Sforza sup

Molmenti, Pompeo. Venice. London, J. Murray 1906-08. 6 vols

Mongeri, G., and G. D'Adda. "L'arte del minio nel ducato di Milano." Arch stor lomb XII 330-356; 528-557; 760-795

Morley, H. T. Old and Curious Playing Cards. London 1931

Muir, Dorothy. A History of Milan under the Visconti. London, Methuen 1924

Muntz, Eugene. "La legende de la Papesse Jeanne dans l’illustration des Livres, du XVe au XIXe siecle." La Bibliofilia II disp 9a-10a (dic. 1900-gennaio 1901) p 325-339

Niklaus, Thelma. Harlequin. New York, Braziller 1956

Novati, Francesco. "Per la storia delle carte da giuoco in Italia." Il libro e la stampa, anno II n.s. fasc 2-3 (marzo-giugno 1908) 54-69

— "La vita e le opere di D. Bordigallo." Archivio veneto XIX 1 (1880) 14

Nuremberg, Germanisches Nationalmuseum. Katalog der im germanischen Museum befindlichen Kartenspiele and Spielkarten. Niirnberg, Verlag des germanisclaen Museums 1886

Ottinio della Chiesa, A. L'Accademia Carrara. Bergamo 1955. (p 67-69)

Pagani, Severino. Il teatro milanese. Milano, Ceschina 1944

Painter, Sidney, French Chivalry. Ithaca, N. Y., Cornell Univ Press 1957

Palliser, Mrs Bury. Historic Devices, Badges, and War Cries. London 1870

Panofsky, Erwin. Meaning in the Visual Arts. Garden City, Doubleday 1955

Studies in Iconology. New York, Oxford Univ Press 1939

Parravicino, Count Emiliano di. "Three Packs of Italian Tarocco Cards." Burlington Magazine III (London 1903) 237-251

Patch, Howard Rollin. The Goddess Fortuna in Mediaeval Literature. Cambridge, Harvard Univ Press 1927

The Other World According to Descriptions in Mediaeval Literature. Cambridge, Harvard Univ Press 1950

[start 122]
Perls, Klaus G. Jean Fouquet. London, Hyperion Press 1940

Petrarch. I Trionfi (many editions)

Plato. "Phaedrus." Plato, tr by H. N. Fowler; Loeb Classical Library, vol 1 (1914)

Puppi, Lionello, "A proposito di Bonifacio e della sua Bottega.” Arte Lombarda iv, No 2 (1959) [245]-[252] [Brackets Moakley's]

Rabelais, Francois. The Five Books of Gargantua and Pantagruel. New York, Modern Library 1944. (Bk I ch 22; Gargantua's games. Bk III ch 9-12; methods of divination, which do not include cartomancy. Bk IV ch 29-32; King Lent)

Raggi, Angelo Maria. "Appunti per una bibliografia dell'arte lombarda, 1945-1954. Arte lombarda, annata prima (July 1955) 165-187

Rasmo, N. "Il codice palatino 556 e le sue illustrazioni" (Revista d'arte, 1939, p 245-281)

Reale Biblioteca Estense, Modena. Mss. (Lat. 209). Il manoscritto estense "De sphaere" (miniatura del sec. XV). Modena, Editore.cav. U.Orlandini 1914. (A facsimile reproduction)

Reid, George William. Italian Engravers of the Fifteenth Century, 1st series. London 1884

Ripe, Cesare. Iconology. London, G. Scott 1779. ("First edition, in Italian, published at Rome, 1593, without illustrations." — Library of Congress catalog entry)

Robbins, Rossell Hope, The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft and Demonology. New York, Crown Publishers 1959, (Note absence of tarot and castomancy)

Salmi, Mario. Italian Miniatures. New York, Abrams 1954

— "La pittura e la miniature gotiche." Storia di Milano vi (1955) 840

— and G. Muzzioli. Mostra storica-nazionale della miniature in Roma (catalog). Firenze 1953

— "Intorno al Cicognara." Bollettino d'arte del Ministero delta Pubblica Istruzione, ser 2, anno 6, vol 1 (Milano 1926) p 217-223

— "Nota su Bonifacio Bembo." Commentari (1953) 7-15

Samuel, Maurice. The Gentleman and the Jew. New York, Knopf 1950

Sant'Ambrogio, D. "Dell' impresa dei tre anelli intrecciati" (Arch stor lomb, anno 18, p 392-398, and note, anno 19, p 216) (Not very much about the Sforza three-ring device; mainly concerned with a coin on which it appears)

Saxl, Fritz. Verzeichnis astrologischer und mythologischer illustrierter Handschriften des lateinischen Mittelalters. Heidelberg, C. Winter 1915-53. 3 vols in 4

Schreiber, W. L. Die altesten Spielkarten and auf das Kartenspiel Bezug habenden Urkunden des 14. and 15. Jahrhunderts. Strassburg, Heitz 1937

Schubring, Paul. Cassoni. Leipzig, K. W. Hiersemann, 1923. 2 vols: "Textband" and a much larger vol of plates. In calling for it in a library it is best to write two separate call-slips, one for each volume. Otherwise you get only one.

Seabury, William Marston. The Tarot Cards and Dante's Divine Comedy. New York, privately printed 1951

Seznec, Jean. The Survival of the Pagan Gods. New York, Pantheon 1953

[start p. 123]
Singer, Samuel Weller. Researches into the History of Playing Cards. London, R. Triphook 1816

Smith, Winifred. The Commedia dell'Arte. New York, Columbia Univ Press 1912

Steele, Robert. "A Notice of the Ludus Triumphorum and some Early Italian Card Games." Archaeologia (London 1900) LVII (ser 2, vol vii) 185-200

Storia di Milano, vol vii. Milano, Fondazione Treccani degli Alfieri 1956

Straparola, Giovanni Francesco, fl 1540. Les facetieuses nuits de Straparole. Tr par Jean Louveau et Pierre de Larivey. Paris, P. Jannet 1857. 2 vols. Riddle in vol II, p 371-372 (XII, 7)

Taylor, Archer. "The Gallows of Judas Iscariot." Washington University Studies. Humanistic series. II (1922) 135-156

Thomdike, Lynn. A History of Magic and Experimental Science. New York, Macmillan 1923-58 (vols III-VIII Columbia Univ Press). 8 vols, of which vol IV has the most to our purpose

Tietze-Conrat, E. Dwarves and Jesters in Art. New York, Phaidon 1957

— "Notes on Hercules at Crossroads." Journal of the 'Warburg and Courtauld
xiv (1951) 308

Toesca, Pietro. La pittura e la miniature nella Lombardia. Milano; U, Hoepli 1912

---- L'ufiziolo visconteo Landau-Finaly donato alla citta di Firenze. Firenze, Fratelli Alinari 1951

Toor, Frances. Festivals and Folkways of Italy. New York, Crown Publishers 1953

Toschi, Paolo. Le origini del teatro italiano. Torino, Einaudi 1955. A good source, listed both in End spett and The New Golden Bough

Traini, Carlo. Reminiscenze del passato bergamasco. Bergamo, Tip. Orfanotrofio maschile 1949- (No more than one volume published?)

Ufiziolo see Toesca, Pietro. L'ufiziolo visconteo ...

Vasari, Giorgio. Lives of the Most Eminent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects. London, G. Bell, 1850-1911. (Vol. I pub by H. G. Bohn, 1850; the others by Bell; vol II 1907; vol III 1895; vol IV 1911; vols V-VI 1907). 6 vols. This set is in the Art Library of the Donnell Library Center, New York City

Venturi, Adolfo. Storia dell'Arte italiana, vol VII. La pittura del Quattrocento, parte I-IV. Milano, U. Hoepli [1911?] (cited as vol XII in Arte lombarda dei Visconti agli Sforza, p 170, but as vol VII in Library of Congress catalog). I have not seen this

Venturi, Lionello. Piero della Francesca. Geneva, Skira 1954

Vianello, Carlo Antonio. Teatri, spettacoli musiche a Milano nei secoli scorsi. Milano 1941

Waetzoldt, Wilhelm. "Jorg Kolderers Miniaturen zum Triumphzug Kaiser Maximilians." Velhagen & Klesings Monatshefte, 53 Jahrg, 11 Heft (Juli 1939) 408-417

Walsh, William S. Curiosities of Popular Customs. Philadelphia, Lippincott 1925

Watts, Alan W. Myth and Ritual in Christianity. New York, Vanguard Press 1953

Nature, Man, and Woman. New York, Pantheon 1958

[start p. 124]

Weisbach, Werner. Trionfi. Berlin, G. Grote 1919

Welsford, Enid. The Court Masque. Cambridge Univ Press 1927

Willshire, William Hughes. see British Museum

Wind, Edgar. Pagan Mysteries in the Renaissance. New Haven, Yale Univ Press 1958

Wittgens, Fernanda. "Note ed aggiunte a Bonifacio Bembo." Rivista d'Arte XVIII (1936) 345ff

----"Un dipinto ignoto di Bonifacio Bembo nel Museo di Worcester." Arte lombarda, annata prima (July 1955) 69-73.

Young, G. F. The Medici. New York, Modern Library 1930
Location: Oregon USA
Favorite Deck: Conver/Noblet & Sola-Busca pips

Re: Moakley's book: text and discussion

Postby mikeh on 24 Feb 2017, 10:24

Now for the next section, pp. 13-16, about which I will have a few comments. It is a taste of what is to come.

[start p. 13]

To understand the tarocchi let us imagine the scenes and symbols of the cards come to life in the milieu in which they originated. First we see a splendidly draped stand on which the Duke of Milan is waiting to review the procession of "triumphs" on the last day of Carnival. His name is Francesco Sforza, and beside him sits the Duchess, Lady Bianca Maria, the only living descendant of the Visconti Dukes. It is a cold winter day, and the Duke and his retinue wear gloves and fur-lined robes. So do the actors who will soon pass by in the triumphal cars, or on foot or horseback to accompany the cars.

Crowds line all the streets through which the procession is to pass. They call out to the paraders, who have a reputation for quick repartee. Twenty yards away a burst of laughter shows that someone in the approaching procession has just returned a good one.

Now the first and least of the triumphs arrives at the stand. On the triumphal car sits the Carnival King, Bagatino, eating his last meal before Carnival comes to its close and he, its King, is executed. The car stops to let Bagatino address the Duke.

"Hey, Duke!" he cries, pointing his royal scepter at the ragged dirty fellow who stands beside the car. "Can't you get me out of the clutches of this tramp? How would you like it if he tried to get your Dukedom away from you?"

The genial Duke smiles and waves his hand, and the ragged tramp brandishes his stout cudgel at the King.

"Don't listen to him, Duke!" the tramp shouts. "He's a no-good, and it's time to oust him. People are tired of being kept up all night at his dances and sprees. They'll be glad to live the quiet life which I, King Lent, have to give them.”

The Duke and his company laugh and applaud, looking at each other with rueful smiles. It is true, they feel. Carnival his been wonder-

[start p. 14]
ful, but there has been a little too much of it. They will be glad to settle down to the quieter game of playing at sainthood for a while.

Bagatino sees that the game is up, and tries to return to his meal. He takes the cover off his dish, but he is so nervous that it slips out of his hand. Of course, the nervousness is feigned. The actor who plays the part of the Carnival King will not actually be killed today, as in the time of the old Saturnalia. There will be a pretence of killing, during which the human actor will slip away unhurt. So Bagatino's nervousness is really only an excuse for the clever juggling with dishes and knives for which he is famous. In a later century, when the Carnival actors have become the troupes of the commedia dell’arte, he will be known as the Little Juggler.

His car now moves on, and the triumphal car of Cupid appears, preceded by a little company of footmen and horsemen wearing the Cup as their heraldic device, and followed by a similar company wearing the Staff.

Cupid stands on a pedestal in the center of the car, aiming his darts at the two lovers below him. The devices on their garments show that the lovers are the newly wedded Duke and Duchess. Cupid's chief captives ride on the front of the car: The Empress and Emperor, Popess and Pope. Two of the cardinal virtues are Cupid's attendants: Temperance with her cups and Fortitude with his staff.. The crowd roars with delight at the obvious sexual symbolism the two virtues have been so absurdly given. (The virtue of Fortitude is more usually represented as a woman, with a column or a lion.)

King Lent has been running off to tease the crowd and the riders on the other cars, but now Cupid's car has stopped before the reviewing stand, and he hurries back to get into the fun. Fortitude has just pointed his staff at Cupid and introduced him in the ribald song beginning:

Here behold our own Cupidus,
None other than the god of Cnidus. . . .

It minces no words in describing Cupid's virility.

Lent lets him finish, but all during the song he takes sly pokes at the characters on the car, not sparing even the mock Duke and Duchess. The song over, he addresses the real Duke:

"A fine crowd this is There are your noble cousins trussed up in front — we all know about them, especially your lady's cousin Manfreda [pointing at the Popess]. Be careful other ladies in the family don't get the idea of wearing the pants."

[start p. 15]
The Duke can afford to smile at this, and even the Duchess smiles. Once the story was all tragedy, but it is so long ago now that one really feels no personal interest in the poor Umiliata nun who had been burned at the stake a century and a half ago. She had seriously been chosen. to be Popess by the little sect of Guglielmites, but now she is only a family joke.

The car moves on, and after its followers, the company of the Staff, ocomlyeae family cin comes the moves triumphal .car of Fortune. She appears in her usual form, turning her wheel with its four victims. She begins to boast of her power as soon as her car stops at the reviewing stand, and then the four victims explain themselves. "I shall reign," says the one on the way up. "I do reign," says the one on top. "I did reign," says the one on the way down, and "I don't reign," the down-and-outer at the bottom, who suggests the coming fate of the Carnival King.

Following Fortune is a company of. footmen and horsemen bearing the Coin as the device of Prudence, and then comes the triumphal car of Death, who is a grisly skeleton armed with a great bow and arrow. King Lent comes running up to the car, and cringes back as Death takes aim at him with the arrow. He sneaks around to the other side of the car, and gets a chance to tweak at Death's leg before the bow can be aimed at him again. Then he runs away squealing.

Death's captive is a perjured knight suffering the special punishment for treachery. He is hung by one ankle to a gallows at the front of the car. Behind him are Death's two attendants, Father Time and the Devil, who stands beside a flaming Hell-mouth.

As the car stops before the Duke the hanged knight, who is really a skilled acrobat, quickly pulls himself up and stands on top of the gallows.

"Your Highness," he says, "I admit my behavior may have earned this treatment, but don't forget that the Pope did his best to put your worshipful father in the same fix."

The Duke laughs and applauds, and the acrobat does a few more stunts before the car moves on.

Next comes the company of Justice, wearing the device of the Sword, and behind this the triumphal car of Eternity. The beasts which draw it are made up to resemble the Four Living Creatures of the Apocalypse, the angel, lion, ox, and eagle. At the front of the car stand actors impersonating the Sun, Moon, and Stars. Each sets off fireworks suitable to his or her own grandeur, and in the growing darkness these are very effective. In the center of the car God is enthroned, attended by

[start p. 16]
trumpeting angels, the virtue of Justice with her scales and sword, and other angels holding up a view of the New Jerusalem. Before him is an open tomb from which three figures are emerging, the resurrected Duke and Duchess and the Carnival King.

The car stops at the reviewing stand, and the angels sing God's praises. In the pauses King Lent calls out to the Duke: "He's a fake! This fellow's no more God than you or me! And that angel over there — he's a devil in disguise." He ruffles the angels' feathers with his cudgel, and tries to pull off God's false whiskers. A youngster in the crowd reaches out and pills a feather from the Fool's head-dress, and runs away with it. The Fool howls and chases the impudent thief, and that is the last we see of him.

The car moves off, with a grand final display of fireworks, and Carnival is over. Now home and to rest, and tomorrow there will be a grand bonfire in the Piazza. Playing cards will go into it, some of them showing pictures of all the figures who have taken part in the last procession of Carnival.
Location: Oregon USA
Favorite Deck: Conver/Noblet & Sola-Busca pips

Re: Moakley's book: text and discussion

Postby mikeh on 24 Feb 2017, 23:41

I think it is important to be as clear as possible about what Moakley is and is not trying to do in this section.

The key words are "let us imagine". She is not saying that any such procession ever really existed, much less that the tarot originated from such a thing. Processions of floats did exist in the period just before the tarot is documented, and people might have imagined the cards, after their creation, in such terms, as costumed allegorical figures rolling by on carts or marching on parade and as a costumed heckler on the sidelines. Whether there were processions with floats at Carnival in Milan is not known to me; nor does Moakley list in her bibliography anything specific to Milan. Perhaps someone can document such a thing. All I know about are the Magi processions there. There was the "Mass of Fools", but I don't know if these even existed in Italy. We can legitimately ask, Is such a procession something the average triumph player in Milan would naturally be able to imagine and thus apply to the cards? Dummett thought it made sense. He says, in the context of discussing the cards as a transformation of Petrarch's I trionfi, as quoted by Hurst (
As documented by Burckhardt and Miss Moakley, a favourite entertainment in the courts of Renaissance Italy was the staging of just such triumphal processions, with floats bearing figures either derived from classical mythology or representing abstractions such as Love, Death, etc.: a transformation of the utterly serious triumph of a Roman general or Emperor into an elegant allegorical entertainment.

For now I can give her such a view of the cards. Otherwise, Moakley is not at this point trying to argue anything except a certain attitude toward them which she thinks is appropriate to that time, i.e. the 1450s and 1460s, when Francesco was Duke.

That frame of mind is that of imagining the cards speaking in witty ways and the players speaking to them wittily as well. It is not just joking, because in at least one case the performer playing the card's title figure, that of the Hanged Man, is not joking about Francesco Sforza's father. He is merely pointing out that he is not necessarily to be despised, just as Francesco's father Muzio Attendola is not to be despised, for incurring the wrath of an anti-Pope when Muzio quit his service. It is the kind of witty imagining of "what if the cards could speak?" that Aretino entertains us with in Le Carte Parlante. and of "what if the cards stood for real people?" which the tarocchi appropriati indulges in, to general amusement. We can imagine the players in a game making similar comments themselves, when a player plays a card of a certain title, with similar retorts from the others around the table, or afterwards. That is the main point. It is also not to deny that there is more than one way of seeing a card. The Hanged Man, for example, would most obviously apply to those justly accused of betraying their masters, even if it also applies to those whose action was ethical despite the accusations, if from an illegitimate source such as an anti-pope.

A problem she slides over is that the common people might not have the same perspective on particular cards as the Duke and Duchess. For Bianca Maria and her husband, the Popess might well be the "family joke". Assuming that is so, are the common people in on that joke? If not, what would they make of the card? For that matter, can we even assume that their cards would show the same things as the PMB does? Whatever it looked like, it must have been called "Popess" and showed a woman in a papal tiara. If so, she is fair game for several jokes: Pope Joan, the captive of Love in that her masquerade was exposed when she gave birth to her love-child, and that of the popes and their mistresses. It is the closeness of her and the Pope to the Love card, and on the other side the Empress and Emperor as a carnal pair, that make the jokes opportune.

There is no definite order to the cards as presented here that make it of one B order rather than another. Whether Love is before Chariot or vice versa is not said, nor where Fortitude and Temperance are precisely, except close to Love. Nor is it clear where Father Time is, except near Death. Justice is near the end, as it is in all the B orders. Why an order from a different region 50 years later would apply here is not said. She has not considered that these lists are all from Ferrara. That step was taken by Dummett. Most strangely of all, there is a Prudence in this deck, except that it is not a triumph but rather the suit of Coins, as a company of horsemen accompanying Fortune! How serious is she? And why not? The tarot deck was never just 22 cards.

A persistent theme here is that of the integration of the suit cards into the procession, as associated in fact with particular triumphs. Hurst criticizes this view as follows (
The Latin suit-signs as emblems of the virtues echoes a 16th century Bolognese allegorization of the suits by Innocentio Ringhieri[24], and is one of many allegorical readings of suit-signs over the centuries. However, the idea that the suit cards represented allegorical companies in a pageant intended to accompany the trump cards is simply false: The suit cards were standard for many decades prior to the invention of Tarot's trump cards, and were directly adopted from 14th-century Arabic playing cards[25]

But Moakley's idea is not as absurd as it sounds. It does not suppose that an association of Latin suits to the cardinal virtues was something that existed before special cards were added to the deck. The Marziano deck, with its 16 special cards, explicitly made such assignments in the surviving account. It was part of the game. It is reasonably possible that the game of "VIII Imperatori" did so as well, assigning pairs of special "imperatori" cards to each of the four suits. Also, the Cary-Yale, as catalogued in the 1980s, did so; in fact it is consistent with their assignments that it was done in the same way, in relation to the four cardinal virtues, each one assigned to a different suit. I am grateful to Hurst for bringing out this aspect of Moakley's book, which indeed has been ignored.

An issue about that cataloguing at Yale is how, unless it came with the cards, that manner of seeing the triumph-ordinary suit relationship would have come about in the mind of the Yale cataloger. Could the 1980s cataloger, in particular, have been influenced by Moakley in making such assignments? Or are the assignments otherwise too different from Moakley's to be related in any causal way? I do not want to suggest an answer until we get to those parts of the text in which the assignments, and the perils of cataloguing, are discussed.

How many accounts of tarot history discuss cataloguers? Her first words, in the Preface, were:
THIS STUDY began almost as a matter of chance. I am a library cataloger, and I wanted to find out how well a library catalog serves the researcher, and whether anything about it needed improvement.

That is another issue in tarot history, the relationship of of cataloguing to research. My interest is whetted. (For example, she uses the idea that Bagatino is a juggler, in the sense of someone who keeps objects in motion. No doubt that is from the term "Juggler", a convenient term for cataloguing. But where did that term come from, and what did it mean then?)

So far, then, there is nothing to change in Moakley's exposition, allowing a narrow definition of her purpose. She has whetted our interest. However we have not yet come to the hard part, that of putting this imaginative exercise in the context of a convincing argument.
Location: Oregon USA
Favorite Deck: Conver/Noblet & Sola-Busca pips

Re: Moakley's book: text and discussion

Postby mikeh on 25 Feb 2017, 14:11

Starting with this post, which deals with Chapter One and its notes, I am going to make one change from Moakley's 1966 format; namely, I am going to put the notes with the text, at the bottom of the page, instead of at the end of the chapter; this should facilitate understanding and discussion. I will put links to my scans of the actual pages at the end of the post. Here is chapter 1.

[start p. 19]

THE TAROCCHI, or tarot cards, reproduced in this book have never before been pictured all together, in their original order, and correctly identified.

This set of tarocchi dates back to the middle of the fifteenth century, and is the work of Bonifacio Bembo. Bembo was the favorite painter of Bianca Visconti Sforza, and it is probable that the cards were painted for her. At that time the tarocco pack ("tarocchi" is the plural form of the word) was not yet established in its present form. The interest of the Visconti-Sforza set of tarocchi is its correspondence, card for card, to the modern tarot or tarocco pack. Of the seventy-eight cards which composed the full deck, only four have been lost; the Devil, the Tower, the Knight of Coins, and the Three of Swords. Otherwise it is the regulation set of four ordinary suits, designated as Swords, Cups, Coins, and Staves, the mysterious fifth suit of twenty-one trumps, and the "wild" card known as the Fool, which is the most interesting card of all. Each of the cards is, in effect, a miniature painting in which Bembo depicted the appropriate symbols of the tarocchi. With the utmost skill and subtlety he has interwoven the Visconti motto "A bon droyt" (said to have been suggested by Petrarch) on many of the cards of the ordinary suits. On some of the trumps there are Sforza devices. This combination of Visconti and Sforza elements shows that the earliest possible date for the cards is 1432, when the betrothal of Francesco Sforza and Bianca Maria Visconti united the two families. However, we cannot date them as early as that since their painter, Bembo, would have then been only twelve years old.(1).

If it is true that Count Sforza adopted the three-ring device, shown on the Emperor and Empress cards, in 1450, the set was probably painted in that very year. The costumes shown on the cards are those of the first half of the fifteenth century, so it is likely that they were not painted much later than that. (2)
[note 1 taken from Moakley p. 24; note 2 from 24-25]
1. For Bembo as maker of the cards see Salmi (Italian, p 46) and the very revealing Arte lombarda dai Visconti agli Sforza, the authoritative and profusely illustrated catalog of a recent exhibition in the Palazzo Reale at Milan, which included much of Bembo's work, including a few of our tarocchi. For Bembo as Bianca's favorite painter see Mongeri ("Arte", p 551). For Petrarch and the motto see Arch stor lomb XII (1885) 542.

2. For the date when Francesco Sforza adopted the three-ring device we have this negative evidence: The device is absent from the portraits of Francesco and Bianca in the Church of St Sigismund in Cremona, which commemorate their marriage in that church (Assum, Francesco, pl facing p 224). It is also absent from the ms of an address by Filelfo to Francesco and Bianca (Paris, Bibl Nat, ms lat 8128, cited and reproduced in Storia di Milano vii 41). I do not know whether or not this was. a wedding address. As positive evidence that he was using the device. in 1450, if not before, we have a statement in Assum (Francesco, p 367f) citing and quoting "Portigliotti, Condottieri" (no further bibliographical information given), to the effect that in 1450 Sforza dropped the devices of the mattock and the lion with quince branch, and adopted the Visconti arms of the quartered eagle and serpent, and at the same time the devices of the "tizzoni con le [start p. 25] secchie," the "fasce ondate," and the three-ring device. The device appears in a ms of the works of Virgil, from which an illuminated. initial showing Francesco and Bianca is reproduced in Storia di Milano v1.1 296. The ms is identified only as "Valencia, Biblioteca Universitaria, vol. 780." In Assum (Francesco, p 107.) is reproduced, a page from an illuminated ms of De venenis by G. M. Ferrari (Paris, Bibl Nat ms let 6980, f 1). Here the device is quartered with the serpent on a jousting shield and an ordinary shield, and is also used separately. On p 92 is shown ms lat 8126, Bibl Nat, Paris. Here the Sforza arms and the arms of Filelfo appear together, and Sforza's include the rings. The device appears on a diploma for the founding of the Ospedale Maggiore of Milan, dated April 1 1456 (see Milan (City) Ospedale Maggiore, Raccolte, pl facing p 72). It appears again in an unidentified ms copy of the Vita di S. Paolo Eremita, mentioned in Arch stor lomb XII (1885) 355, which contains the monogram of Sforza's daughter Ippolita Maria (born in 1446) and includes all the Sforza devices, which the article lists by name. I have not felt myself competent enough, even if I had the time, to go further into this question. For the date of the costumes see Malaguzzi-Valeri (Corte I 572), which says that our tarocchi are of exceptional importance for the history of costume in the first half of the fifteenth century.

[start p. 20]
The cards are painted and illuminated on heavy cardboard. Each card measures 175 x 87 millimeters, and is very thick, so thick that it is hard to imagine the set having been used for actual play. The trump cards and court cards are painted in brilliant colors on a diapered background of gold over red, with silver used here and there for armor or in the decoration, of robes. The common cards are in gold with touches of color on a white background. All of the cards have plain red backs.(3) Six of the cards are by a different hand from Bembo's, and at one time the whole set was thought to be the work of Antonio Cicognara.(4) These six (Temperance, Fortitude, the Star, Moon, Sun, and World) continue to be ascribed to that artist. The modelling of the plump putti in the Sun and the World is very different from Bembo's style, and to one critic they recall the Lombard style of the time of Butinone and Zenale, who worked together in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries.(5) It is possible that these later cards were painted to replace cards lost from the original set, or perhaps they are remnants of a later set used to fill in gaps in the Bembo set.

We know that the set originally belonged to the Sforza family from the heraldic devices shown on many of the cards. Nothing is known about the subsequent ownership of the cards until the seventeenth century, when it is said that they belonged to a Canon Ambivero of Bergamo. They were inherited from Count Ambivero by the noble Donati family, and then passed to a Count Alessandro Colleoni of Bergamo. As there has been an Alessandro Colleoni in this family at least every other generation, it is impossible to ascertain the exact date when the cards came into the possession of the Colleoni family.(6) In the late nineteenth century another Count Alessandro Colleoni gave twenty-six cards of the set to his friend, Francesco Baglioni, in exchange for some objects of art which included a portrait of his ancestress, Countess Cecilia Colleoni, painted in 1705 by Fra Galgario. Baglioni bequeathed his cards to the Accademia Carrara in Bergamo, and they became part of that museum's collection when Baglioni died in 1900.

At some time before the set was broken up, each card must have acquired the ugly tack-hole it now has, for it is hard to imagine two or three separate owners having all been guilty of this vandalism,

In 1911 the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York acquired thirty-five of the cards from the dealer Hamburger, who doubtless had acquired them from Count Colleoni. The remaining thirteen of the
[footnotes 3-6 moved from Moakley p. 25].
3. The description of the cards is taken almost verbatim from the catalog of the Pierpont Morgan Library, except for the color of the backs, which is from personal observation. Mr Plummer, the curator of manuscripts, very kindly took each card out of its envelope so that I could satisfy myself on this point.

4. Berenson (Italian, p 144) attributes "Force, Temperance, Sun, Moon, Knave of Coins, and Castle of Pluto" (i. e. the World) to Cicognara, and does not mention the rest of the set at all. The "Knave of Coins" must be the Page, as the Knight is missing. Salmi (Italian, p 46) evidently attributes this card to Bembo, as he shows a reproduction of it as an example of Bembo's work.

5. The mention of Butinone and Zenale is in Malaguzzi-Valeri (Corte iv 67). He mentions in this connection only the Sun, Moon, and World, two of which are the only cards with putti. It seems to me worth noting that the diapered background of the later cards is slightly different (the lozenges are larger, and in them straight-rayed stars alternate with wavy-rayed suns). In combining my authorities I have allowed this to influence me.

6. The information about the earliest supposed owners of the cards (Ambivero, the Donati family, and the first Count Colleoni to own them) is from Gustavo Frizzoni, Le gallerie dell'Accademia Carrara in Bergamo (Bergamo, 1907), p 32). The occurrence of an Alessandro in the Colleoni family at frequent intervals is from Enciclopedia storico-nobiliare italiana, II (Milano 1929) 502.

[start 21]
extant cards are still in the possession of the Colleoni family.(7) The following table shows the location of each card. "M" indicates the Morgan Library, "A" the Accademia Carrara, and "C" the Colleoni family. Blank spaces are left for the four missing cards.
Those familiar with the order of the trumps in a modern tarocco pack will notice that there are slight differences in the above list. The reasons for this will be explained later.(8) At the Morgan Library each card is kept in an envelope with a transparent front, so that scholars may occasionally examine the cards with-
[notes 7-8 taken from Moakley pp. 25-26]
7. The story of the exchange of cards for a portrait of Countess Cecilia Colleoni is in a little folder issued by the Pierpont Morgan Library: Tarocchi (New York 1936) p 1-5. The name of the Countess is given in the catalog of an exhibition of Fra Galgario's work in Rome, 1955, at which time the portrait was still in the Colleoni collection. The Secretary of the Accademia Carrara writes me that the Accademia has never owned more than the twenty-six cards bequeathed to it by Baglioni. "Entrammo in possesso Belle succitate carte da gioco," he writes, "precisamente con atto notarile it 18 Ottobre 1900 -n, 235 atti pubbl. del Dott. Enrico Tiraboschi, Notaio."
[start 26]
Dr John H. Plummer, Curator, of Mediaeval and Renaissance Manuscripts for the Pierpont Morgan Library, informs me that the accession book of that Library has a record that it acquired its thirty-five cards in 1911 from the dealer Hamburger. The table showing the present location of the cards is based on recent photographs of the cards obtained from both institutions and from the Colleoni family.

8. The earlier order of the trumps is taken from two sermons and a set of versified tarocchi, all of the fifteenth century, which I will cite and quote later on, in the section on the game of triumphs.

[start p. 22]
out handling them. They are kept in a fourteenth-century French casket-box made of dark brown calfskin, decorated in relief with scenes from a romance of chivalry.(9)

Until very recently little was known about the painter of the cards, Bonifacio Bembo. Only a fewof his works wer listed, and the number of them still in existence had escaped notice. During the last ten years, however, several art historians have taken an interest in him and have uncovered a good deal of his miniature painting and other work. There are tablets showing Biblical scenes, a lovely Coronation of the Virgin and an Assumption, a diurnal of seventy-three leaves illuminated by him, a manuscript "History of Lancelot of the Lake" which he illustrated, and several other items. The tarocchi described here are supposed to be among his earliest work.(10)

From letters by or about Bembo we learn something about his career. He himself claimed that he had been a supporter of Francesco Sforza in the critical year 1447, after the death of the third Duke of Milan, Filippo Maria Visconti. This was when the question first arose as to whether Milan and its subject cities would declare themselves independent or accept Sforza or another noble as their Duke. Sforza became Duke of Milan in 1450, and afterwards Bembo received many commissions from members of the Sforza family, up to the year 1477, when he fades from history. (11)

In 1456 he had a share in decorating the great hall of the Castello in Pavia, where the Dukes of Milan had always spent a good deal of their time. The Certosa monastery which they built nearby was one of the most beautifully decorated of all Renaissance buildings. In 1467 Bembo painted an altarpiece for the Cathedral in his home town, Cremona.

The following year Galeazzo Sforza (Francesco Sforza's son) commissioned him to return to Pavia for more work in the halls of his Castello. The walls were to be decorated with scenes showing friends of the Count and their dogs in various hunting episodes. In the written instructions of Count Sforza we read such directives as:
Item, that Alexio is to be shown being thrown from his horse by a stag, with his legs in the air.

In another scene the same Alexio was to be shown attacking the offending stag with his sword. In addition to the hunting scenes, instructions were given to paint Duke Giangaleazzo with all his servants
[notes 9-11 moved from Moakley p. 26]
9. The description of the casket-box is from the Morgan Library's catalog, and of the envelopes from personal observation.

10. The recent discoveries of Bembo's work are from Arte lombarda dal Visconti agli Sforza, p 80-81.

11. The letters which date Bembo's work are in Baroni. (Pittura, p 1o7ff). Salmi (Italian; p 46) gives further details of his work.

[start p. 23]
"da naturale," and likewise the Duchess Catelina. Other ancestral Dukes and Duchesses were also to be shown: Filippo Maria, Francesco, and Bianca with their counsellors. The directions go into great detail as to costume and the colors to be used. It is evident • that the family (or at least Galeazzo Sforza). was not dependent on its artists for decorative ideas.

We have no record of the payment made to Bembo for this work, but it must have been fairly satisfactory, for on August 6 1471 Bembo wrote to the Duke asking for more work at the Castello. Just four days later (a prompt correspondent, Galeazzo!) the Duke replied that there was no work at Pavia for Bembo at present. Previously, on October 16 1469, Galeazzo had sent an order to Niccolo Trecchi to pay Bembo "libre 22, s. 10, d. 4" for the ancona he had painted for the altar of "sancto Grisante" in the Church of St Augustine in Cremona, as the dowager Duchess' memorial to Francesco Sforza. This accounts for Bembo's opportunity to work in his native town.

In the summer of 1472 Galeazzo hired Bembo and Leonardo Ponzoni to work together on a votive chapel of St Mary outside Vigevano. Two years later Bartolomeo Gadio suggested to Duke Galeazzo that he have Bembo do an "Archo con la Neula" (bow in the cloud) for the chapel of the Castello in Milan. Bembo must have done something really praiseworthy that year, for the next spring, on April 23 1474, Galeazzo conferred the rights of Milanese citizenship upon Bembo and his descendants "usque ad infinitum." It is unfortunate that the specific reasons for this honor are not known to us. Two months later there were more plans for the decoration of the chapel of the Castello at Pavia, where Bembo was to collaborate with two other artists. In 1476 he was paid by Zaccaria Beccaria for his part of the work on the frescoes in S. Giacomo at Pavia, and in 1477 we hear of him for the last time. He was then living in the Collegio Castiglioni at Pavia, and must have been approaching sixty.

The liveliness and gaiety of Bembo's work are typical of much of the work done by many different artists for the Visconti and Sforza families. The members of these families often had bad reputations for cruelty and corruption, but one cannot help feeling at least a glimmer of empathy for them when one sees the wittiness and exuberance of the Ufiziolo illuminated for Filippo Maria Visconti, the Grammatica of Elio Donato made for young Maximilian Sforza, or the little miniature in a choir-book which shows Francesco Sforza animatedly talking military shop

[start p. 24]
with great warriors of the past, among them Julius Caesar and Hannibal. There is a Milanese heartiness and good humor here which contrast attractively with the unearthly quality of Botticelli's contemporary paintings of his tubercular model, for example. One of the liveliest of the miniatures in the Ufiziolo shows Moses' serpent ( probably thought of as the same serpent as that in the heraldic device of the Visconti) devouring another serpent, whose expression of mixed hellishness and meek submission is very engaging. (12)

As mentioned before, the cards Bembo painted for the Sforza family can hardly have been used very often, if at all, for card games. The family had many other cards, much less splendid, for that purpose. About fifty years ago some of these turned up in wells and cisterns of the Castello in Milan, when it was undergoing renovations. Some twenty packs of stencilled or printed cards, dating from the fifteenth to seventeenth centuries, were found there, along with broken bits of antique crockery. These were the cards which had suffered real use, perhaps including the twelve packs of cards which Francesco Sforza's son Lodovico, in the year 1495, asked his father-in-law the Duke of Ferrara to purchase for him. They were being made cheaply in Ferrara, and a pack could be had there for four or five soldi. From such evidence we know that Bembo's cards must have been treasured very highly, until they fell into the hands of the thumb-tack vandals, whoever they may have been. (13)
[notes 12-13 taken from Moakley p. 26]
12. Most of the Ufiziolo has been published in black-and-white facsimile in Toesca (Ufiziolo). Other Visconti and Sforza mss will be found reproduced in Salmi (Italian), Toesca (Pittura), Arte lombarda . . . (op cit.), Malaguzzi-Valeri (Corte). Francesco with the warriors is in Salmi (Italian, p 199).

13. For cards found in wells and cisterns see Novati ("Storia," p 65). For cheap cards from Ferrara see Malaguzzi-Valeri (Corte I 575).

[Links: p. 19: ... ge-007.jpg

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pp. 22-23: ... ge-009.jpg

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Location: Oregon USA
Favorite Deck: Conver/Noblet & Sola-Busca pips

Re: Moakley's book: text and discussion

Postby mikeh on 25 Feb 2017, 15:16

I am going to try to update Moakley's chapter 1, in part with the aid of Michael Hurst's piece on her work.

1. Moakley would undoubtedly delete the first sentence ( if she were alive today.

2. The next paragraph contains the sentence mis-paraphrased by Hurst, who said (
Moakley pointed out that the Visconti symbolism predominated on the feminine suit cards while Sforza symbolism predominated in the masculine suits. This suggested to her that the deck might have been a wedding gift or otherwise commemorative of the Bianca Maria Visconti and Francesco Sforza marriage, which took place in 1441.

What Moakley actually said was:
With the utmost skill and subtlety he has interwoven the Visconti motto "A bon droyt" (said to have been suggested by Petrarch) on many of the cards of the ordinary suits. On some of the trumps there are Sforza devices. This combination of Visconti and Sforza elements shows that the earliest possible date for the cards is 1432, when the betrothal of Francesco Sforza and Bianca Maria Visconti united the two families. However, we cannot date them as early as that since their painter, Bembo, would have then been only twelve years old.(1).

3. Then there is the issue of the three rings Hurst says:
One element of the heraldic symbolism is the presence of Borromean Rings. Moakley dates the adoption of the Borromeo Rings to c.1450, suggesting that as the earliest plausible date.

Moakley does not, a least in this discussion, refer to the interlocking rings as "Borromean Rings" or connect the three interconnecting rings to the Borromeo family at all. I suppose technically Hurst does not say she did, since the Borromeo family did use the device (after 1450); also "Borromeo Rings" is a term in topology for such interlocking shapes (but without the diamonds that are part of the device).

The question of the three rings was discussed recently starting at viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1154&start=90#p18841, linking to a previous discussion. In this discussion, Sforza would have either acquired it in 1441 from the city of Cremona, his wife's dowry-city, or by virtue of his father's being given it from the Este in 1409, although that may have been only a single ring. In any case it was before the PMB, and it was Sforza who gave it to the Borromeo.

Dummett in his 1986 The Visconti-Sforza Tarot Cards calls the three rings "a distinctive Sforza device" (p. 11), but without further explanation. What shows that the cards were not made before 1450 in his view is not the rings by themselves, but their appearing in combination with Visconti insignia:
The three rings appear in conjunction with the ducal crown, with fronds of laurel and palm (a Visconti device) on the garments of the Emperor and Empress. Francesco would never have countenanced such an association before he had made good his claim to the duchy; the pack, therefore, cannot have been painted earlier than 1450.

In favor of 1452 or1451 for the original cards is the letter by Bianca Maria Visconti to her husband, asking him to deal with Sigismondo Malatesta's request of the previous autumn, for triumph cards of the kind made in Cremona. Dummett in the Artibus et Historia article, p. 22, cites Winifred Terni de Gregory, Bianca Maria Sforza, Duchess of Milan, 1940, p. 157, to the effect that Bianca Maria wrote her letter in 1451. But cites 2 articles about it, one giving 1452 as the date for Bianca Maria's request and the other a 1988 article with a date of Nov. 1452 for Malatesta's request!

The request suggests either that the PMB or something similar was done for him, or it already existed. Phaeded has argued that the Venetian lion on the shield of the King of Swords dates the cards to before Nov. 1452, after which Venice and Sforza were at war (viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1062&p=16305&hilit=lion+Venice+Mark+1452#p16305). Bandera and Tanzi in the 2013 Brera catalog argue for c. 1455 for around half the cards (not counting the 2s-10s; see point 4 below), on stylistic grounds, comparing the Queen of Batons to recently uncovered frescoes in Cremona churches dated c. 1455-1460 (see my post at viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1058&p=16209&hilit=Cigognara#p16209). Their point is not easy to see. Dummett in 2007 argued for 1462-3 (see point 4; also not easy to accept, given the recent discovery, thanks to Adrian on THF, that the "added cards" are of a different thickness than the "original").

Marco at viewtopic.php?f=11&t=917&p=13546&hilit=ducal+Malatesta#p13546 says:
This 1452 letter (brought to our attention by Ross) in which the secretary of Francesco Sforza commisions a trionfi deck with the ducal coat of arms as a present for Sigismondo Malatesta (who had written to Bianca Maria asking for such a deck).

His link to "this 1452 letter" says nothing about any ducal insignia that I can find. But if Malatesta wanted a deck with ducal insignia--I am not sure how much "ducal insignia" implies--then it may well be that the surviving "original" cards were never in possession of the Sforza family. The same may be said for the 6 cards in a different style. But surely they had a copy, perhaps the originals of the "original" cards.

4. Hurst comments:
The deck is still generally attributed to [Bonifacio] Bembo. Six replacement cards were painted by a different hand, decades after the deck was originally created. These have been attributed to various artists, including Bembo's brother Benedetto.[16])

Actually, there has been some question as to whether the "first artist" cards are all Bonifacio, or if perhaps some other artist member of the workshop might have had a hand in it, notably Ambrogio Bembo, for whom a suspected individual style, very similar to Bonifacio's but more "cursive", has been identified, both for the PMB and for some other works formerly attributed only to Bonifacio, such as the "Lancelot" (see Bandera in 2013, quoted at viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1058&p=16209&hilit=Cigognara#p16209). Bandera in 2013 hypothesized that Ambrogio "completed" the deck, I assume meaning the 2s-10s, which display an abundance of curving plant stems, etc. However that still would leave Bonifacio for all the ones of interest to us.

When the 6 added cards were done is indeed still under debate, as Hurst says. Dummett ("Six 15th century tarot cards: who painted them?", Artibus et Historiae 28:56, Feb. 2007, pp. 15-26) thought that they were all done at the same time, 1462-1463, by a division of labor between Bonifacio and Benedetto. Huck proposes 1465, for Ippolita Maria Sforza's wedding. As reported by Tanzi in the catalog to the 2013 exhibition in Milan, all the art historians--including Bandera and he--think that they were done by Antonio Cigognara, who has no known works before 1480 (see viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1058&p=16209&hilit=Cigognara#p16209). Tanzi does note Dummett's disagreement.

There is also the possibility, raised by Phaeded, that the "added" cards were from another deck, "added" only by a collector who had acquired both. There are quite a few "PMB clones" from the late 15th and early 16th centuries. The style is usually considered Ferrara-influenced.

It remains an open question as to whether the 6 subjects of the "added cards", as well as the Devil and the Tower, are "missing" as opposed to never being there (22 - 8 = 14). This question has been discussed on this Forum very often.

5. Galeazzo Maria Sforza's instructions to Bonafacio Bembo for the now-lost frescoes at Pavia, as mentioned by Moakley, is also of interest because it included card playing. See for example Lubkin, A Renaissance Court, p. 309, that the fresco program specified "Elisabetta and damsels playing cards and other games". Elisabetta was Galeazzo Maria's younger sister.

6. Just to clarify: the "Ufiziolo" is not a work associated with the Bembo (nor does Moakley say it is). It is the "Visconti Book of Hours", or perhaps "Psalter-Hours" begun by Gian Galeazzo Visconti and finished by Filippo Maria Visconti (, discussed at length in the thread, "Visconti Marriage and Betrothal Commemorations", which starts viewtopic.php?f=11&t=917&p=13402&hilit=hours#p13402.

7. For more works attributed to Bonifacio and his workshop, see Tanzi's books on the Bembo and Tanzi and Bandera's catalog to the Brera's 2013 exhibit. I have discussed these in the thread at viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1058&hilit=Ambrogio.

8. Moakley's argument about how the cards were not used for play is another topic still being debated. That the cheap printed cards found in wells, etc. in the Sforza Castle would have been those of the Sforza family at the time of the PMB is not accepted by other researchers. None is dated earlier than the late 1490s (a 2 of Coins even has the manufacturer's name, a documented Milanese producer, and the date 1499 printed on it, as shown in Kaplan vol. 2 p. 289); most are given to sometime in the 16th century. However it is certain that less expensively made cards were widely available in the 1450s, if only from the data of the silk dealers in Florence, Milan's very staunch ally at the time.

9. I especially liked the tracing of how the cards got to where they were in 1966. Her table of where the individual cards are now is slightly out of date, in that the 13 number cards formerly owned by the Colleoni family are now, according to the 2013 Brera catalog, in a "private collection" in Bergamo.

In general, this was an impressive chapter, with much good information, mostly not out of date, but some things still being discussed.
Location: Oregon USA
Favorite Deck: Conver/Noblet & Sola-Busca pips

Re: Moakley's book: text and discussion

Postby mikeh on 26 Feb 2017, 01:12

Now on to Chapter 2. Comments in brackets are mine unless otherwise indicated. I have moved the notes to the bottom of their respective pages, instead of at the end of the chapter. Added later: Also, it seems to me that the OCR program's mistakes are mainly with the Notes, so from now on I am only posting scans of pages with notes.

[start p. 27]

AS WE HAVE SAID, it is now certain that most of the cards in the Visconti-Sforza set were the work of Bonifacio Bembo. However, at the time the trumps of the set were acquired by the Accademia Carrara and the Morgan Library the best available authority for their history and meaning was thought to be Memorie spettante la storia della Calcografia, written by Count Leopoldo Cicognara and published in 1831. Count Cicognara was a connoisseur of the arts, a follower of Napoleon, and for some time, Prime Minister of the Cisalpine Republic. (1)

The section of his book pertinent to our study reads as follows:
The Chronicles of Cremona written by Domenico Bordigallo, reported in the notes of the jurisconsult Giacomo Torresino ... report as follows: "1484. In this year our own Antonio de Cicognara, excellent painter of pictures and fine illuminator, illuminated and painted a magnificent set of cards called Tarocchi, seen by me, which he presented to the Most Illustrious and Most Reverend Monsignore Ascanio Maria Sforza, Cardinal of Holy Church, Bishop of Pavia and Novara, formerly Dean of our Cathedral and at present Commendatory of the Canonry of St Gregory in the same, and son of the Most Illustrious and Excellent Francesco Sforza and Madonna Bianca Visconti, who was born here in Cremona. The same illuminated other games for the two sisters of the Cardinal who were Augustinian nuns in the convents founded by the said Madonna Bianca in this city." (2)

For lack of any better information, this story was generally accepted as true, although as early as 1880 Francesco Novati, the well known philologist and teacher, had cast doubt on it. Novati wrote that he had not been able to find the passage quoted above in the Latin original of Bordigallo's chronicle. He also showed that the sources used by Count Cicognara had been falsified by Antonio Dragoni, a notorious literary forger. Fifty years later, in 1931, U. Gualazzini proved that the sup-
[nots 1 and 2 on p. 32 in original]
1. It is evident that Count Cicognara was followed in cataloguing the cards owned by the Morgan Library, for the titlesgiven to follow his list and repeat his statement that they were painted by Antonio Cicoinara for Ascanio Sforza. in 1484. The same authority must have been used at the Accademia Carrara, for there too we have a Castello di Pluto which can have come only from Cicognara. The biographical information about Count Cicognara is taken from a sales catalogue pasted in The New York Public Library's copy of Count Cicognara's Catalogo ragionato dei libri d'arte e d'antichita posseduti dal Conte Cicognara (Pisa, presso N. Capurro 1821, 2 vols). I did not think this point important enough to follow any further, and offer the information on this flimsy authority for its entertainment value.

2. The supposed passage from the Chronicles of Cremona is in Cicognara (Memorie, p 158ff). The translation is mine.

[start p. 28]
posed notes of Giacomo Torresino reported in Count Cicognara's book had no foundation in fact. Earlier, Robert Steele had cast serious doubt on another story about playing cards in this book. Although erroneous, it is interesting to relate this story here, since it has all the marks of Dragoni's vivid imagination:
In the Fibbia house (in Bologna) there is a large painting which shows the full-length portrait of an ancestor of that family, with the inscription: "Francescri Antelminelli Castracani Fibbia, Principe di Pisa, Montegiori, e Pietra Santa) e Signore di Fusecchio, son of Giovanni, a native of Castrucci, Duke of Lucca, Pistoja, Pisa, having fled to Bologna and presented himself to Bentivogli, was made Generalissimo of the Bolognese armies, and was the first of this family, which was called in Bologna 'dalle Fibbie.' He had to wife Francesca, daughter of Giovanni Bentivogli, Inventor of the game of Tarocchino in Bologna, he had from the XIV Reformatories of the city the privilege of placing the Fibbia arms on the Queen of Staves and those of his wife on the Queen of Coins. Born in the year 1360, died in the year 1419." Francesco stands next to a small table, and holds in his right hand a pack of cards from which some are falling. On the floor may be seen—the two aforesaid Queens with their respective heraldic devices. (3)

Steele could find no evidence that such a painting had ever existed, or that cards with these two devices had been made. It was true, he said, that in 1700 Giuseppe Maria Mitelli had engraved a set of cards with .the heraldic device of the Bentivoglio, a saw, on the Queen of Coins. But this was the nearest thing to truth in the whole story. With Count Cicognara and his sources so seriously in question, art historians began to look else:where for the painter of the cards. For a while it was believed that they were the work of the. Zavattari brothers, who had painted the legend of. Queen Teodolinda in what appeared to be somewhat the same style. As early as 1928, Longhi expressed the belief that the cards were the work of Bonifacio Bembo, but it is only in the last decade that Bembo has been generally accepted as their painter. Even more confusing than the question of the artist's identity has been the correct identification of the cards by their original fifteenth century titles, which have been known to those who cared to look into the matter for the last sixty years. (5) The titles giVen to the cards in many works on art history are so fantastic that one might think gremlins had
[notes 3-5 on p. 32 in original]
3. Full bibliographical references for Novati, Cualazzini, and Steele will be found in the bibliography. See also Arte lombarda dai Visconti agli Sforza, p 84f. The Fibbia story is in Cicognara (Memorie, p 137f).

4. For the ascription of the cards to the Zavattari see Arte lombarda dai Visconti agli Sforza, p 84, which cites as sources Venturi (Storia XII [i. e. VII] 278) and Toesca (Pittura, p 526-527). Arte lombarda... dates the cards in the time of Duke Filippo Maria because of the motto "A bon droyt" which appears on the suit cards, on the ground that Sforza did not use the motto. However, it may be seen in Paris, Bib Nat, ins lit 8128 reproduced in Malaguzzi-Valeri (Corte) II 125 fig 123; and also in Storia di Milano. VII 41), which is headed: "Divis principibus Francisco Sphortie et Blancae Mariae Vicecomitibus," and has all the devices used in our cards, including the three diamond rings. The ms is an address by Filelfo. We also have the statement in Assum (Francesco, p 367f) that the dove with this motto in its beak was one of the devices adopted by Sforza in 1450. For the dates when Bembo's name began to be widely accepted as the maker of the cards cf Arte lombarda . . . p 84f. It was only in the 1950s that Salmi (Italian and "Nota") began to name Bembo confidently as their maker. As late as 1953 Berenson (Italian) listed Cicognara as maker of the later cards of the set, but was completely silent as to the maker of the earlier cards, listing neither Bembo nor the Zavattari.

5. The fifteenth-century list of the trumps is in Steele ("Notice," p 191), and Hargrave (History, p 227 and 387), Bertoni (Poesie, p 220) and two sheets of uncut cards (with numbers but no names) in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, no 31.54.159 and 26.101.5 in its collection of prints, under the heading "Ornament. Playing cards. Italian (?) XV or XVI cent." In this set the World is an unnumbered card like the Fool.

[start 29]
been at work, if one did not know that Italian art historians (and Italian scholars generally) seem to think that an interest in playing cards is beneath their dignity. Italian dictionaries often omit playing-card terms, in much the same way as our English dictionaries omit the worst four-letter words. Or one might assume perhaps, that the terms are so taken for granted that it is expected that no one will ever need to look them up: Even the Enciclopedia italiana, which has valuable articles on games and cards, including a long explanation of the ritual to be observed in playing the different tarocco games, does not tell one how the games are played.

Two other factors are involved in the mix-up concerning the correct identification of the cards. First, the cards were catalogued after they had been separated, and here too Count Cicognara's book was too closely followed.(6) Second, the cataloguing was done at a time when iconography was in complete eclipse, and art fanciers would cry "Shame!" at you if you wanted to know what a picture meant. You were supposed to be interested only in style, and not care whether you were looking at a picture of God or the Devil. Titles were tacked onto pictures simply as a convenience, rather like numbers on prisoners. It was felt that it did not really matter what you called a picture so long as it had some identifying title. This attitude has tended to obscure the remarkable completeness of the Visconti-Sforza set, and its equally remarkable similarity to the modern tarocco pack.

Here are the errors in identification made in the original cataloguing of the trumps: The Juggler was called Castle of Plutus and the Empress, Queen of Staves; despite the fact that the set has another card which really is the Queen of Staves, with the long spindle-tipped staff of her suit. Time was a little more reasonably called the Hermit, for that is what he has become in the modern pack, but what seems so obviously his hourglass was described as a lantern. Justice was identified as the Queen of Swords, even though this showed a duplication of the actual Queen of Swords which is still part of the set The World was called Castle of Pluto. Thus, according to this account, the set included only fifteen trumps corresponding to those of the modern pack, and two Castles of Plutus or Pluto. It had two Queens of Staves and two of Swords. To add to the confusion, somebody seems to have thought that the tarocchi, like our bridge cards, should have only three court cards to a suit. In accordance with this idea, we were told that the set had two
[note 6 on p. 33 in original]
6. I conclude that the cards were catalogued after they had been separated because otherwise we could hardly have had two Castles of Pluto, two Queens of Staves, and two Queens of Swords, and because I was told at the Morgan Library that they still had a list of the sources which were used in cataloguing the cards there, although I did not see this list. Panofsky (Meaning, p 324ff) shows how recent the whole profession of art history is.

[start p. 30]
Knights of Cups, although one is on foot and therefore most certainly a Page. (7)

Our old friend Count Cicognara was responsible for some of this confusion too, and his source was one of the most fantastic pieces of iconotropy ever dreamed up by the human imagination. The authority he relied on was Antoine Court de Gebelin, a renowned scholar who was an acquaintance of Benjamin Franklin and greatly esteemed by the King of France. (8) The gist of Court de Gebelin's story is that some time in the last quarter of the eighteenth century he happened to see some ladies playing a card game with tarot cards. In his part of France these cards were unusual, and he had not seen them since he was a boy. He was interested in ancient Egypt, and it suddenly struck him that he was seeing a sacred Egyptian book, brought into Europe by the Gypsies, to whom it had been entrusted by ancient Egyptian priests thousands of years ago. Their idea, he said, had been that the safest way to preserve their ancient wisdom would be to disguise it as a game, and to trust that some day a wise man of the future would able to decipher it. And now the time had come!

Intuitively, Court de Gebelin knew what wisdom had been hidden in what seemed a simple pack of cards! He spread the cards out on the table, and explained their hidden meaning to the astonished ladies. The trumps, he explained; should be read backwards, beginning from the highest. The first seven trumps represent the Golden Age: XXI Isis (the Universe), XX The Creation (not the last Judgment, as one might ignorantly think), XIX Creation of the Sun, XVIII Creation of the Moon and terrestrial animals, XVII Creation of the stars and fish, XVI The House of God overturned, with man and woman precipitated from the earthly Paradise, XV The. Devil, bringing to an end the Golden Age. The next seven cards are for the Silver Age: XIV Temperance, XIII Death, XII Prudence (the cards Court de Gebelin had before him depicted a dancing Prudence instead of the Hanged Man), XI Force coming to the aid of Prudence, X The Wheel, IX Hermit seeking Justice, VIII Justice. The last group is for the Brazen Age: VII War (in the modem tarocco pack the triumphal car of Love has given way to a military chariot bearing an armed warrior), VI Man fluctuating between vice and virtue, V Jupiter (the tarot cards of Southern France usually show Jupiter and Juno instead of Pope. and Popess), IV King, III Queen, II Pride (Juno and her peacock), I Juggler.
[notes 7 and 8 on p. 33 in original]
7. The Juggler was described as "16. The Castle of Plutus; or, The Tower. A wealthy miser sits upon a treasure chest; one hand rests upon a heap of money (?) (sometimes represented as a city in Heaven, the New Jerusalem)." — entry in card catalog of the Morgan Library, under "Tarot, Game of." In the same entry (as of 1959 — no doubt these cards will be recatalogued as soon as the facts about them become absolutely certain, but no library wants to incur the expense of recataloguing until that happens) Time is described as "9. The Hermit; or, Philosopher (with Lantern in hand he seeks in vain for truth or justice)," and the Hanged Man as "12. Prudence — A man hanged (sometimes represented by Mercury poised on one foot" (here we see the influence of Court de Cebelin). The entry goes on: "14. Temperance — A woman mixing water and wine, in two vessels (opening the age of silver )" (Court de Cebelin again). The entry does not attempt to describe the actual Car of the set, but says simply "7. The Car (generally represented as Osiris in his triumphal car, the symbol of war in the age of bronze" (so much for the Queen of Love and Beauty!). This all seems very queer, yet as we have seen in Panofsky's Meaning, the science of art history is so young that it was advanced of the Morgan Library to make any attempt at all at an iconography of the cards, and indeed Panofsky tells us that Mr Morgan was one of the collectors who fostered the young science.

8. For Court de Gebelin and Benjamin Franklin see Frank E. Manuel, The Eighteenth Century Confronts the Gods (Cambridge, Harvard Univ Press, 1959) p 250. I have stretched the truth just a little bit in saying the King esteemed him highly; all I know is that the King was one of the subscribers to his Monde primitif. cf Burdette C. Poland, French Protestantism and the French Revolution (Princeton /957) 7o, 229-230. Court de Gebelin tells the story of his "discovery" in his Monde primitif (VIII 367). At the end of the same volume are plates showing the tarot trumps as he knew them.

[start 31]
Court de Gebelin wrote an article about his findings, which he included in one of the many volumes of his Monde primitif. At once the mills of the flashier fortune-tellers and occultists began to grind, the story was further embroidered, and still remains with us today. It is fondly believed in by occultist and magical circles, although no modern Egyptologist has ever come forward to support it. (9)

This then is the source from which Cicognara took his titles for the cards. He did moderate the wildest of Court de Gebelin's flights of fancy, but enough remained to throw the cataloguing of the cards into confusion. Here is Cicognara's list: Mondo, Giudizio, Sole, Luna, Li sette pianeti, Il castello di Pluto, Tifone, Temperanza, Morte, Prudenza, Forza, Ruota della Fortuna, Saggio o Filosofo, Giustitia, Osiride, Matrimonio, Jerofante (Papa), Re, Regina, Sacerdotessa o Papessa, Giocolatore, Matto. (10)

On casual examination and properly translated, this list is almost recognizable as a list of the trumps in the Visconti-Sforza set. Our Car has turned into Osiris, the missing Tower has become the Castle of Pluto, the Emperor and Empress have been demoted to King and Queen, and the Hanged Man rejoices in the name of Prudence. Still, there is a shadowy resemblance. You might do almost the same as the original cataloguers, given these names to fit to the cards on the authority of a respected scholar.

And let us say right here a word in defense of cataloguers. A cataloguer would be neglecting his primary work if he investigated any one item as if he were going to write a doctoral dissertation about it. The cataloguers who have described tarot cards in the past were cataloguing whole libraries, or at least whole collections of playing cards, and cards have yet to find a scholar who will do for them what Murray has done for chess. This has meant that cataloguers of playing cards have had no real authorities to depend on; they have had to use the second best. It was not their business to listen to and evaluate the faint voices of dissent, hidden away in the archives of local historical societies. Such voices have only lately mounted into the roar which has disposed of Cicognara as an authority on tarocchi.

And it is no tragedy that through Count Cicognara the impression has spread, even beyond occultist circles, that there is something very ancient and mysterious about tarot cards. Even though they are not a sacred Egyptian book, there is a meaning in them as ancient as the mind of man and as mysteriously ambivalent as the figures of Carnival.
[note 9 on p. 33, note 10 on pp. 33-34 in original]
9. The best and most amusing account of the growth of occult Tarotisrn is in Arthur E. Waite, The Pictorial Key to the Tarot, pt 1, section 4: "The Tarot in History." A plagiarized edition of this book has long been current in the U.S. as "The Illustrated Key to the Tarot, by L. W. de Laurence," but a reprint of the original edition, illustrated for the first time in four colors from Pamela Colman Smith's designs, has recently been published by University Books.

10. Cicognara's list of the trumps is in his Memorie, p 131-134. It is evident that he accepts them more out of indifference than gullibility. A strange sidelight on the Cicognara mix-up is a set of thirteen cards all at one time owned by Mr Piero Tozzi of New York, who still has some of them. He believes they are part of an extra set made at the same time, and by the same artist, as our set. Unfortunately, one of these cards, in the style now recognized as Bembo's, bears the conspicuous initials "A. C." (for Antonio Cicognara?). These thirteen cards were described in Connoisseur (March 1954, p 54-60) and reproduced there in color. I am grateful to Mr Tozzi [start p. 34] for allowing me to see these cards, one of which shows the Visconti serpent and, Mr Tozzi tells me, may have been meant as an extra joker, or substitute card. It would be interesting to know whether the "A. C." was added some time after 1831 to clinch the ascription to Cicognara, or whether the cards themselves were painted after that time. In any case they are very interesting and valuable, as mementos of this whole affair.

[start p. 32]
Our study, however, is more concerned with the surface meaning of this particular set of cards, made for Bianca or Francesco Sforza in the middle of the fifteenth century. What did they think the cards signified, and what ideas must they have associated with these pictures?

[Scan of pp. 32-33 (notes): ... 014det.jpg

Scan of p. 34 (end of notes): ... 015det.jpg]
Location: Oregon USA
Favorite Deck: Conver/Noblet & Sola-Busca pips

Re: Moakley's book: text and discussion

Postby mikeh on 26 Feb 2017, 08:21

Hurst, after summarizing Moakley's arguments for dismissing Leopoldo Cigognara's claims about a deck made for Cardinal Anscanio Sforza in 1994 and a painting with an inscription attributing the invention of "tarocchini" to Prince Fibbia, comments (
Subsequent research has left the significance of the first passage of Cicognara's account in dispute. Among the possibilities, at one extreme Leopoldo's story may simply be spurious. At the other extreme, his ancestor Antonio may actually have repaired the very deck Moakley studied, including the addition of six replacement cards. However, the second passage has been confirmed. The painting exists, with the inscription, and Bolognese cards did bear the images described[23]. Fortunately none of her other conclusions depended upon these.

I do not disagree. I only want to add a few things. First, Cigognara may well have been quoting his source correctly. Dummett 2007 in discussing the source mentions that the pagination indicates that pages of the source are missing:
In introducing the passage, Count Leopoldo stated that it came from the Chronicle of Bordigallo as reported in the schede [notes] of Torresino. Domenico Bordigallo (1449-1527) was the Cremonese author of a Latin Chronicle running from the creation of the world to the year of his death and concentrating on events relating to Cremona. Neither the Chronicle nor any other of Bordigallo's works, some in Latin, some in Italian, was ever printed. Gian Giacomo Torresino was a XVI-century jurist and student of Cremonese antiquities. He kept a notebook each page of which was devoted to a single year, and on which he entered quotations from various sources relating to Cremonese events of that year. It, or what remains of it, can be seen at the Biblioteca Statale in Cremona, catalogued under Torresino's name as 'suoi scartafacci' [his notebooks]. The first year for which there is a page is 990, the last 1473, although what appears to be a table of contents refers to years between 800 and 1590. In his book, Count Leopoldo added that the passage had been communicated to him by Mgr. Antonio Dragoni.

So the years 1474-1590 of Torresino's notebook are missing, and the event in question is in 1484. Dragoni is of course the nefarious forger. But perhaps he was telling the truth. In that case, there may well have been such a deck, made by his ancestor Antonio, just as Leopoldo said. He said nothing, at least in what is quoted, about that deck being the PMB now in New York and Bergamo. That was other people's conclusion. A later collector may or may not have combined cards from the two decks, if by then many were missing from the later deck's lower triumphs. 1484 perfectly fits the years Antonio was active; we would expect cards to be earlier rather than late. Cigognara and others may well have made several such luxury decks a that time.

About Prince Fibbia, it is not only that the painting exists, as well as the cards with his insignia, but also Prince Fibbia himself, dying in precisely the year said in the inscription, 1419. This was not an easy fact to ascertain; Franco Pratesi confesses in a recent essay that he looked for Fibbia in the Bolognese documents and could not find him, but Andrea Vitali did. If you want to read more, see Andrea's essay "The Prince", online. On the other hand, both the painting, with its inscription, and the cards are 17th century, two centuries after the event narrated. In the meantime even the word "tarocchi" has been lost, replaced by the word "tarocchini", meaning "little tarocchi"; it is a deck shortened by the removal of some of the number cards. Is it fact or legend? Many legends are simply not true. But he did exist.

Hurst ignores the rest of Moakley's chapter 2, which for me was the most enlightening, as it discusses a subject of considerable importance which is rarely talked about, namely, cataloguers, of which Moakley numbers herself, as how she makes a living. How reliable are they? In Moakley's view they are very unreliable--except, of course, for her, who as a researcher has discovered the truth. Cataloguers do not have time to research every acquisition that does not wear its title on its cover, and they are as good as their sources. With that in mind, she argues that both Cigognara and the Pierpont-Morgan's cataloguer are based on the spurious theories of Court de Gebelin.

Unfortunately her presentation is rather confused. Court de Gebelin published two accounts, one by him and the other by the C. de M., as the Count de Mellet styled himself. Moakley recounts de Mellet's account only, calling it de Gebelin's:
the trumps, he explained; should be read backwards, beginning from the highest. The first seven trumps represent the Golden Age: XXI Isis (the Universe), XX The Creation (not the last Judgment, as one might ignorantly think), XIX Creation of the Sun, XVIII Creation of the Moon and terrestrial animals, XVII Creation of the stars and fish, XVI The House of God overturned, with man and woman precipitated from the earthly Paradise, XV The. Devil, bringing to an end the Golden Age.

But she misrepresents him. He clearly says that the 21st represents the "l'Universe"; that indeed is one interpretation of the word "Monde" on the bottom of the card ( ... les_Tarots). He identifies the lady in the middle as Isis, but that is not the title of the card. The second one is called "Jugement", even if what is expressed is the "creation of man". As for the rest, he doesn't give their names--which, after all, are right on the cards--but rather what they "express". So the 19th expresses "the creation of the Sun, which illuminates man and woman", and so on. He is simply adding his glosses to the titles that are given right there on the "Tarot de Besancon" card, as his proposals for what these cards are really about, the Golden Age.

Meanwhile, the cataloguer is faced with a problem. Is he or she supposed to put the "meaning" of the cards in addition to their title. And if so, meaning according to whom? And what title? Suppose the cards have no titles? Should there be a description of what is literally depicted. It is often not clear what is depicted.

So we come to Cigognara's list, which Moakley thinks is influenced by de Gebelin.
Here is Cicognara's list: Mondo, Giudizio, Sole, Luna, Li sette pianeti, Il castello di Pluto, Tifone, Temperanza, Morte, Prudenza, Forza, Ruota della Fortuna, Saggio o Filosofo, Giustitia, Osiride, Matrimonio, Jerofante (Papa), Re, Regina, Sacerdotessa o Papessa, Giocolatore, Matto.

Well, here is de Gebelin (
Le Tems mal nommé le Monde ... Tableau mal nommé le Jugement dernier ... Canicule...intitulé l'Etoile ... Maison-Dieu ou Château de Plutus ... Typhon .... Tempérance ... Mort .... Prudence ... Force ...
Roue de la Fortune ... Sage ou le Chercheur de la Vérité & du Juste ... Justice ...Osiris Triomphant ... Mariage ...
Grand-Prêtre .... Roi ... Reine ... Grande-Prêtresse ... Jouer de Gobelets, ou Bateleur ... Fou

But what is Cigognara reporting? We don't know how he has introduced this list. Could he be describing an actual deck produced in Italy at his time? If so, I don't know what it is, but it is believable. Card makers read de Gebelin and wanted to keep up with the times. All kinds of words were put on cards. If not an actual deck, then perhaps he is giving what the cards were called by people he knew. In fact, although the list does not fit the list that she quoted as de Gebelin's, it does precisely fit de Gebelin's own proposed titles. Again we have to remember that de Gebelin was proposing, not describing: the titles did not need to be described, they were there on the Tarot de Marseille cards. If Cigognara is describing the tarot as it was conceived in his time, is he wrong to do so?

However the poor cataloguer is faced with a problem. Not knowing when the objects in front of her were made, or what similar objects were called in the time in question, what is she to do? Well, she has to use some source. I'd say: use the best you know, and state what it is. Moakley mentions in a footnote that the Pierpont Morgan had a list of the sources used. Moakley apparently didn't see it. Did she ask for it? Before criticizing others, it is always best to check the sources of the person you are criticizing. I hope they didn't throw the list away.

She does give us some of what the Pierpont Morgan's cataloguing says, if not its sources. (I put where they are locaed in brackets: M=Morgan; A=Accademia Carrera, Bergamo:
The Juggler [M] was called Castle of Plutus and the Empress [M], Queen of Staves; despite the fact that the set has another card which really is the Queen of Staves [A], with the long spindle-tipped staff of her suit. Time was a little more reasonably called the Hermit, for that is what he has become in the modern pack, but what seems so obviously his hourglass was described as a lantern. Justice [A] was identified as the Queen of Swords, even though this showed a duplication of the actual Queen of Swords [M] which is still part of the set. The World [A] was called Castle of Pluto. Thus, according to this account, the set included only fifteen trumps corresponding to those of the modern pack, and two Castles of Plutus or Pluto. It had two Queens of Staves and two of Swords. To add to the confusion, somebody seems to have thought that the tarocchi, like our bridge cards, should have only three court cards to a suit. In accordance with this idea, we were told that the set had two Knights of Cups [M], although one is on foot and therefore most certainly a Page [M].

And footnote 6:
6. I conclude that the cards were catalogued after they had been separated because otherwise we could hardly have had two Castles of Pluto.

You notice that the duplication is always with cards in different places, except for the two Knights of Cups. Why there were two Knights of Cups is still not very clear, as there are still four court cards in Cups, since neither of the males in New York has a crown.

"Plutus" and "Pluto" are in fact different gods, the one the Greek god of wealth and the other the Roman god of the underworld. However the cataloguer may be taking the PMB World card as a card with the same title as that of the first card in a different deck, because of the "sometimes represented as a city in Heaven" in footnote 7 (below). In fact we don't really know what the PMB World card was called. It looks more like a castle or a city than a world.

For the rest, the problem is indeed that the cards were separated. So yes, it is important to know what cards of the same deck look like that are held by other collections, and to watch for telltale attributes that separate one card's identity from another. We still have that problem today (e.g. in identifying the Rothschild cards).

In a footnote she has more:
7. The Juggler was described as "16. The Castle of Plutus; or, The Tower. A wealthy miser sits upon a treasure chest; one hand rests upon a heap of money (?) (sometimes represented as a city in Heaven, the New Jerusalem)." — entry in card catalog of the Morgan Library, under "Tarot, Game of." In the same entry (as of 1959 — no doubt these cards will be recatalogued as soon as the facts about them become absolutely certain, but no library wants to incur the expense of recataloguing until that happens) Time is described as "9. The Hermit; or, Philosopher (with Lantern in hand he seeks in vain for truth or justice)," and the Hanged Man as "12. Prudence — A man hanged (sometimes represented by Mercury poised on one foot" (here we see the influence of Court de Gebelin). The entry goes on: "14. Temperance — A woman mixing water and wine, in two vessels (opening the age of silver )" (Court de Gebelin again). The entry does not attempt to describe the actual Car of the set, but says simply "7. The Car (generally represented as Osiris in his triumphal car, the symbol of war in the age of bronze" (so much for the Queen of Love and Beauty!). This all seems very queer, yet as we have seen in Panofsky's Meaning, the science of art history is so young that it was advanced of the Morgan Library to make any attempt at all at an iconography of the cards, and indeed Panofsky tells us that Mr Morgan was one of the collectors who fostered the young science.

Yes, de Gebelin is there as "Castle of Plutus" ,"Philosopher", "Prudence", "poised on one foot", and "Osiris in his truimphal car"; de Mellet is in "opening the age of silver" and "symbol of war in the age of bronze". On the other hand, there is the qualifier "generally" for the chariot, as if the cataloger knew it wasn't Osiris on a war chariot, and "sometimes" for the man upright on one foot. In fact this man was standardly upright in the "Belgian" tarot throughout 18th century, see Imperiali (1550) even called the card "prudence", (viewtopic.php?f=11&t=1160&p=18800&hilit=Imperiali+prudence#p18800). Hermits usually do have lanterns. While Time "makes sense", the usual term then was "hunchback" or "old man". But it is true that the cataloguer didn't give any description of the actual cards being catalogued, except the lame attempt to do justice to a card put in the wrong envelope, the Bagatella (as I would call it).

Perhaps Moakley is saying: don't describe the general in lieu of the particular. But if so, why use a list from a different region of Italy 100 years later (Bertoni) to describe the particular cards in front of us? When there are no titles on the cards and no contemporary accounts from the same place, we are inevitably driven to use particulars as though they were generalities. It is only a matter of degree. But at least we can have some humility about it. What we don't know, we don't know, and can only make rational guesses among alternative hypotheses. The guesses are relative to what the guesser knows at a particular time and place. So what seems absurd at one time may look rational at another. Hopefully the reasons for choices are recorded, and nobody throws anything away from one's predecessors. The history of the name assigned is part of the history of the card.

Moakley observes that "no doubt these cards will be recatalogued as soon as the facts about them become absolutely certain, but no library wants to incur the expense of recataloguing until that happens". Since it is unlikely that the relevant facts about these cards--titles, order--will ever be "absolutely certain", on that reasoning, they will never update their cataloguing. In fact that is true of many libraries. The British Museum website is an online catalog. Some of its entries for tarot images are based on 1876 information that has been out of date since at least 1909, despite the absolute certainty of the information, as Ross once gently prodded me into realizing (viewtopic.php?f=12&t=334&hilit=moors+british&start=250). They should have a place where we can email when we spot errors, and someone to make the judgments as to what's correct.

In this context it might be useful to look at the list of triumphs at Yale, which were catalogued in the 1980s ( ... onti-tarot). It goes as follows, leaving off the suit-assignments for now: Empress, Emperor, Love, Chariot, Fortitude, Faith, Hope, Charity, Chariot, Death, (no caption, scene of castles), (no caption, scene of people in tombs). I see no translation issues. The titles fit not only later decks in Milan but also depictions of these types in other art. I had forgotten that the last two cards had no captions. This list seems to me not to be influenced by any cataloguing prejudice. It does not seem the sort of thing a cataloguer would make up, on the basis of any descriptions of any other decks, except the most general. For example, the word "Love" was then in use, as opposed to "Lover". Even then, why isn't there at least the caption "Angel" on the last card. And why would it be last, since all the lists of Lombardy have it next to last? The order here also does not correspond to the minchiate order of these particular cards. The only problem is that there are no sources given and no explanations. It surely didn't come out of thin air. That is not helpful to the researcher.

In footnote 9 Moakley makes a laudatory comment about A.E. Waite:
The best and most amusing account of the growth of occult Tarotisrn is in Arthur E. Waite, The Pictorial Key to the Tarot, pt 1, section 4: "The Tarot in History."

Looking there, I find that it is devoted to debunking the idea that tarot has an Egyptian origin, saying of de Gebelin in particular (
.. he set the opinion which is prevalent to this day throughout the occult schools, that in the mystery and wonder, the strange night of the gods, the unknown tongue and the undeciphered hieroglyphics which symbolized Egypt at the end of the eighteenth century, the origin of the cards was lost. So dreamed one of the characteristic literati of France, and one can almost understand and sympathize, for the country about the Delta and the Nile was beginning to loom largely in the preoccupation of learned thought, and omne ignolum pro Ægyptiaco was the way of delusion to which many minds tended. It was excusable enough then, but that the madness has continued and, within the charmed circle of the occult sciences, still passes from mouth to mouth--there is no excuse for this.

and ending:
We have now seen that there is no particle of evidence for the Egyptian origin of Tarot cards.

It is nice to know that occultism and respect for historical evidence could go together for one of the tarot's most celebrated proponents. And that Moakley admired that.
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Re: Moakley's book: text and discussion

Postby BOUGEAREL Alain on 26 Feb 2017, 13:10

mikeh wrote:

About Prince Fibbia, it is not only that the painting exists, as well as the cards with his insignia, but also Prince Fibbia himself, dying in precisely the year said in the inscription, 1419. This was not an easy fact to ascertain; Franco Pratesi confesses in a recent essay that he looked for Fibbia in the Bolognese documents and could not find him, but Andrea Vitali did. If you want to read more, see Andrea's essay "The Prince", online..


The Prince
The creator of the Ludus Triumphorum

Translation revised by Michael S. Howard, Feb. 2012

Personnal opinion : About the Prince Fibbia and Vitali's take.
Andrea is a well aware of Medieval culture. His guess, I think, is not based on fables, but on a logic that important university historians of the Middle Ages such as Cardini can at least understand - I believe so.
I am not a specialist but still, I do not understand the reason why the hypothesis of Vitali is not understood and considered as plausible.
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Aliases: Alain BOUGEAREL

Re: Moakley's book: text and discussion

Postby mikeh on 26 Feb 2017, 22:31

Thanks for giving the link, Alain. Yes, it is plausible. But so is the opposite. Legends are often false, especially about the beginning of something. In Florence a statue was even erected to the alleged Florentine inventor of eyeglasses, based on 17th century claims without foundation and contradicted by other evidence pointing to Pisa or Venice. These claims are described on pp. 13-18 of Renaissance Vision from Spectacles to Telescopes, 2007,
by Vincent Ilardi. The statue is recounted on p. 16 ( ... ue&f=false). However the invention of eyeglasses still seems to have been 25 years before the first valid extant documentation, as Ilardi shows.

There is also the story, closer in time to the alleged event (50 years or a little more: bonfire c. 1425, from an account of 1472 or a little later), that Bernardino's bonfire in Bologna included triumphs, something added to earlier stories about his bonfires that only mentioned playing cards (see Andrea's "Saint Bernardino and the Cards", That can be explained away as the projection of a later time into the past, yes, but there is also the other possibility, that it was added because it happened that way, based on documents of the time then extant, or on people's unimbellished memories. Memories of what happened 50 years before are sometimes false, but not usually. As Andrea points out, one of the earlier stories, referring only to playing cards, was about Siena rather than Bologna, and the other was a translation into Latin from the vernacular, "based, as always happened in these cases, upon the oral tradition and writings that were incomplete or not totally precise," as Andrea says. It may be that triumphs weren't mentioned then because at the time the sermon was written down, 1430 or later, those decks had largely disappeared from Bologna, thanks to Bernardino.
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