The Cary-Yale Kings – a nod to Visconti genealogy?

Two fundamental Gian Galeazzo Visconti manuscripts that came down to Filippo Visconti obviously interested the latter as propaganda for his own regime:

* Elogium on Giangaleazzo Visconti by Pietro da Castellato, complete with both Christ crowning the deceased duke as well as the Venus-Anchises genealogy appended at the end of the funeral oration for Gian Galeazzo, "Sermo in exsequiis Iohannis Galeatii ducis Mediolani", by Petrus de Castelleto (B.N. ms. lat. 5888). The illuminations were painted by Michelino da Besozzo in 1403.

* The Visconti Hours, the unfinished portion by Giovannino de Grassi interrupted at Gian Galeazzo’s death in 1402 and then completed by Belbello da Pavia under the auspices of Gian Galeazzo’s second son, Filippo Maria, who became duke in 1412.

Because Filippo was the second son and not the original successor he felt an acute need to draw the connection to his father, particularly in completing the Hours. This was especially the case since his older brother, Gian Maria Visconti (b. 1388 in Abbiategrasso – d. 1412 in Milan), was assassinated by Milanese nobles and did not leave a son, but his wife, Antonia Malatesta of Cesena (daughter or niece of Carlo Malatesta), survived him with the title of Duchess. More importantly, many of the various communes that formed the duchy announced their freedom and separated themselves at Gian Galeazzo’s death. Reconquering the duchy was of paramount concern, but reasserting legitimate succession to the first imperially sanctioned duke (1395), Gian Galeazzo, also needed to be visibly proclaimed.

The CY deck, like the Eulogy and Hours, is essentially a set of illuminations (whether on card or parchment, these are all miniatures). I will argue that the CY can similarly be seen as a continuation of the concerns of the first two productions; in fact the second phase of the Hours by Belbello made for Filippo graphically references the earlier Eulogy’s genealogy, on the leaf now known as Landau Finaly 57v (by the library collection it ended up in; hereafter LF 57v).
These miniatures belong to a continuous pictorial tradition, traceable to the Early Christian period, in which Adam blames Eve and Eve blames the serpent for their transgression. The presence of mankind’s progenitors perhaps suggested to the illuminator a condensed genealogy of the Visconti as decoration of the borders on 57v. The profile at the top may represent Anchises, from whom the Visconti claimed descent. At the sides are pairs of veiled profiles (perhaps women), wreathed men, and youths. The bust in the center of the lower margin probably represents Filippo Maria, portrayed like his father (BR 115) within a ring of pink and blue clouds set against golden rays. This painting depicts a much younger man than the portrait of Filippo Maria by Pisanello on the medal of around 1441.

It is not surprising that the second patron should have wished to be portrayed on the opening miniature of the first gathering of leaves in the Visconti Hours illuminated entirely for him. (Millard Meiss and Edith Kirsch, The Visconti Hours, 1972 [no page # but see text preceding plate LF 54]
So immediately in the renewed hours we have a portrait of Filippo, following suit like his father, similarly portrayed in a nimbus of clouds (a flattened version of this cloud nimbus separates the allegorical fama at the top of the arch in the CY “World” card). Moreover he visually cites the Eulogy’s genealogy, culminating in him at that time, shown at the center-bottom of the illumination in the case of both works:
Eulogy genealogy and VH LF 57v.JPG
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The genealogy on the left is the last illumination of several pages of Visconti descent from the Jupiter-Venus-Anchises group that begins the genealogy. Given that “Love”, Venus’s son, is the only CY trump that is a classical god is also represented in Marziano cards (the last trump), both should be linked back to this preoccupation with Venus as tutelary goddess of the dynasty. Ross has appropriately, to my mind, linked Michelino’s earlier Visconti genealogy of descent from Venus to the Marziano deck featuring both Venus and Cupido on his new book’s cover:
Caldwell Ponzi cover.JPG
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I’ve argued previously that Filippo had the Marziano deck in mind with the true love of his life, Agnese del Maino. viewtopic.php?t=1029
The affair between Filippo and Agnes began in 1418, but Ross’s new proposed dating to c. 1420 would simply celebrate a relationship that was going to endure the early infatuation stage. We know from the Borromeo fresco that elite males and females played cards together and there is no reason to think Filippo would not have followed suit with his lover; even Marziano seems to wink at the idea: “…it might be asked whether it be fitting for a man to find recreation from the weariness of virtue in some kind of game….. and that it be fitted to the serious man wearied of virtue, and that without much difficulty the use of it will be free of circumstances of debts, and that it will be conducive to happiness; as I am truly persuaded that the noble working of the intellect of he who was fatigued would thereby be restored to excellence.” No doubt a weekend with the mistress in Abbiategrasso was just the restorative tonic Filippo needed; and now for some cards to pass the idle hours. As for a comparable obsession with a mistress, one thinks of Pier Maria Rossi’s c. 1460 building of the Castello di Torrechiara, complete with surviving frescoes, for his lover Bianca Pellegrini, herself a lady-in-waiting to Bianca Maria Visconti (not to mention Sigismondo Malatesta's public declarations for his mistress, Isotta degli Atti, in numerous poems, written by himself and by his court poets). On a slight tangent, another Rossi commissioned fresco, from his Roccabianca castle and now detached and housed in Castle Sforza museum, shows men and women playing at cards (just like the Borromeo fresco).

As a woman and given the times, Bianca’s primary role in Visconti dynastic politics was to someday bear children who would carry on the Visconti legacy. And to hammer home, once again, the clearly shown item in the tent behind the couple in the CY love card: a matrimonial bed, where consummation would legitimize the union with Sforza (with resulting issue to ensure succession for Visconti). The presence of Venus in both the Marzinao and via her son in the CY is in the role of the the classical representation for human generation; Adam and Eve the Chrisitian one – both are present in Visconti’s miniatures.

The Visconti Hours LF57v’s biblical theme speaks to genealogy via “mankind’s progenitors” of Adam and Eve, now cursed with original sin but also with generation, located directly above Filippo. Given this obsession with genealogy and succession, not to mention the virtual damnatio memoriae of brother Giovannino (no nimbus portrait in the Hours), would Filippo really neglect his own succession in his only child, Bianca Maria, on whom Filippo having grandchildren entirely relied? Bianca and Francesco Sforza tacitly acknowledge this desire, self-servingly of course, in having their first male child take the name of the grandfather and share Filippo’s middle name: Galeazzo Maria. Succession is clearly intimated at here and had to have been a constant subject on Filippo’s morbid mind – Filelfo translated two short treatises by Hippocrates (De flatibus and De passionibus corporis) for his unhealthy prince (Filippo was corpulent and gouty) and indeed he would only live a half dozen more years after Bianca and Sforza’s wedding.

We are then confronted with the strained circumstances of Filippo’s bastard child marrying a newcomer powerbroker, without hereditary titles. Nonetheless it is Filippo’s only child and if he is not going to be remembered by her and her children, who else will tend to his memory? The emergence of the Ambrosian Republic after his death presented just that problem, performing their own damnatio memoriae on Filippo, as duly noted by his still-praising humanist Filelfo (with an eye to Bianca and Sforza restoring Visconti order):
The ungrateful plebs are punished because they failed to honor the deserving shade of the sublime and celebrated Duke Filippo with funeral rites….Let bold Francesco Sforza, whom our songs have often raised to the stars, look well to the interests of this man he supports. (Filelfo, Odes IV.1.30f; Robins tr. p. 223)

And what was Gian Galeazzo’s Euology but the proper “funeral rites”, appreciated by Filippo but denied to him by “the ungrateful plebs” of the Ambrosian Republic (but that pertained to a later day).

When Filippo finally relents to giving Bianca away in marriage, however reluctantly to the likes of side-switching Sforza, it his surest means of immortality in terms of being remembered by a loved one connected to the rulership of his realm. And to ensure Bianca’s own tenuous claims on the duchy, the relevance of genealogy had to be addressed, and I believe that naturally occurs in the patrilineal lines, as represented by the CY Kings. The problem is there are only three surviving kings – there are a total of 17 court cards in the CY when there should be 24 (3 males and 3 females per each of four suits, or 24 total). The missing King is of Batons, which, as we shall see, would have represented Sforza.

The Visconti are represented by the Coins, with that suit's court’s clothing decorated by the radiate dove, and Cups, with the ducal crown and fronds device. Sforza’s devices are present in the Swords suit with the pomegranate/quince of his family’s hometown of Cotignola, and then in the Batons suit with his fountain device.

First, how to identify who was who between the two Visconti kings? Referring back to the portraits of Gian Galeazzo and Filippo in the Eulogy and Hours, note that the father has a long goatee and Filippo is generally clean-shaven (perhaps a hint of stubble in the Hours), which he maintained even when he became corpulent, as shown on the Pisanello medal. So if Filippo wanted to make another nod to his own succession of Gian Galeazzo in the CY, by depicting both of them, it would be easy enough to differentiate between the two with facial hair. Granted the CY king has a full beard rather than a goatee; as for Filippo, he is seldom depicted as obese – shown as a rosy-cheeked youth here - so we are never going to find true likenesses in the idealizing cards but rather stereotypes. The two Visconti kings:
CY King of Cups and King of Coins.JPG
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Besides the facial hair, there is not much to distinguish between the two except to note the extremely odd gesture made by the King of Cups, the king identified with Filippo, in rejecting the coin offered him by the servant. The coin being rejected tellingly does not have the radiate dove on it. The radiate dove decorates the robe of the King of Cups, the jousting shield held by the allegorical figure of chastity upon the Chariot trump (surely Bianca), and the banner on the downward pointing trumpet in the Judgement trump. The last, the trumpet with radiate dove banner, is pointed at the naked female “arising for judgement” (per the text at the top) who makes a hand gesture back at the trumpet, visually connecting the two. Comparing the standing naked male and female, their positions match that of the Hours leaf LF 57v, Eve’s head exactly at the same height of Adam’s groin as in this Judgement trump. Its as if it is the female (one of Eve’s descendants, gender-wise) is in more need of atonement and salvation as the prime bearer of original sin. The other male, clothed but without halo (so not Jesus), could signify the already deceased Gian Galeazzo (with full beard like the King of Cups); the still living being depicted naked. That would make the Adam stand-in Filippo, perhaps looking on at Agnese – note the plump stomach of the naked woman who apparently has been through child-bearing. The third figure whose head is just emerging from the grave, below Filippo (not shown here), would be Agnese’s daughter, Bianca. The entire dynastic succession connected to Filippo is thus shown – his father, the mother of his child and his child – thus foreshadowed as being saved on Judgement Day. Also note the tower resembles the dowry city of Cremona’s huge tower – the tallest brickwork bell tower in the world in 1441 – in that both have a crenelated lower section of tower from which the spire portion “telescopes” from (the actual Cremona octagonal top simplified to four walls, perhaps due the limits of the small area allotted it on a card).
CY Judgement and Cremona tower.JPG
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The real significance of the radiate dove is its central position over Gian Galeazzo, being crowned by Christ Himself, in the first Eulogy illumination. Adopting the radiate dove as his primary stemma underscored how Filippo understood the significance of that symbol at his father’s death: not just the dead man’s eventual resurrection but succession to the imperial title, as noted by the numerous imperial eagles flanking the scene:
Gian Galeazzo Eulogy.jpg
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The Venus-Anchises genealogy follows this “funeral rites” scene, which again places an emphasis on succession. When we encounter the radiate dove in the CY it has to be in this light: although born in original sin, Bianca is nonetheless chaste and is shown as such with Chastity’s jousting shield emblazoned with the radiate dove, a suitable bride for succession. Similarly, in the Judgement card the people below the trumpeting angels are all guaranteed salvation because they were divinely appointed in the first place “with good right”; indeed, the Queen of Cup, the consort of Filippo/King of Cups, has not just the radiate dove on her robe but her servant’s robe is embroidered precisely with that motto: a bon droit (i.e., ignoring the reality that Agnese was not his wife and the daughter was illegitimate):
CY Queen of Cups .jpg
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Again, the coin offered to Filippo/King of Cups, from which he recoils, does not have the radiate dove device. The coin then is simply ‘filthy lucre’ of which Filippo’s dynasty is not based on – the dynasty was anointed to rule from the beginning, via Anchises and with 'good right' from God. Nonetheless Filippo was accepting some twelve thousand florins for a castle and small towns at precisely this time in October 1441 from Correggio – ergo, methinks the Duke doth tellingly protest too much. From a different tact, perhaps the coin was a dig at his contractor (condottiero) son-in-law. At all events, there must be a meaning to why this king shows the coin and I see no other reason. The radiate dove, on the other hand, is central to the Visconti identify under Filippo.

Moving on to the Sforza stemmi on the Kings of Swords and Batons – the pomegranate/quince is on a jacket covering the armor of the King of Swords and the fountain device on the Baton court cards (the fountain is recycled as the Ace of Cups in the PMB, albeit outfitted with a chalice base so as to make the fountain a “cup”). Below, the Page of Batons has been inserted in place of the missing king, but his dress would have been virtually identical to the king, as indeed is the motif clothing for each set of court cards in each suit. CY King of Swords and Page of Batons:

Following the father and son identifications of the Visconti suits, we are confronted with the question as to who would be Muzio and who Francesco? The missing King of Batons can be overcome due to the the unique attributes of the helmed page at the King of Swords’ side. No other page ever occurs in the Visconti-Sforza cards with a helmet on; why? The biography of Muzio explains this odd feature: In service for the Queen of Naples, in 1424 Muzio was leading their combined forces across Pescara River when his squadrons hesitated on the south bank - he plunged his horse into the river to lead them on, but his page carrying his helmet fell into the river; Muzio drowned trying to save his page. That must be the reason the King of Swords averts his eyes from the helmed page in the lower right, and why indeed the page's head is covered with the helmet. One can even find a modern reconstruction of this event:

Nonetheless, Muzio had already achieved immense fame by the time of his death, as evidenced by serving a queen. In 1441 Muzio’s deeds were arguably equal to that of his son, Francesco, being merely the count of the Marche at that time (essentially the middling port of Ancona). Muzio can then be seen as founder of the Sforza line, just as Gian Galeazzo founded the Visconti line on an imperial basis (again, imperial investiture came in 1395). In a way, the propping up of Sforza’s social status by means of the father foresaw the difficulties that Sforza would encounter when he claimed Milan. Without the imperial investiture, Sforza claimed the duchy based on the public acclaim by the communes in the duchy. The legal problem at that time:
.…the elevation of Milan to the status of duchy had canceled the privileges granted to the Lombard communes at the peace of Constance. In the eyes of the law, Sforza was a usurper; the duchy was officially vacant and should devolve to the Empire.(29)

(Therefore the reasons for the translation and his deeds, why Milan granted the duchy to Sforza, becomes central to the arguments made by Sforza’s chancery and they are fourfold: 1. Filippo’s donation (recognized as a forgery and thus drops out altogether as a rationale); 2. the fame and glory of his house in the person of his father Muzio degli Attendoli; 3. His wife Bianca Visconti, the only issue of Filippo Visconti; 4. Sforza’s virtus): “This final point occupies more space than all of the rest put together, and is obviously the most important.” (30)
(Gary Ianziti’s Humanistic Historiography under the Sforzas: Politics and Propaganda in Fifteenth-Century Milan . (Oxford, I988).
It is clear why Muzio would have been included in the CY - it provided a sort of ersatz elite background for Sforza, albeit not hereditary, but necessary for Visconti to feel like Sforza's standing was important enough for his only child. Sforza was not shy in using Muzio's background once again in 1450, per Ianziti.

In summary, we have irrefutable interest on the part of Filippo in his family's concocted genealogy and it is hard to imagine how Filippo, clearly continuing that genealogical preoccupation in the form of the Visconti Hours leaf LF 57v noted above, would not been concerned with how his only child would continue that genealogy, particularly at the time of her marriage, when she was literally contracted to bear children. Below, the CY King cards are arranged so as to better depict the genealogy of the two lines being joined in a marriage union, with Sforza depicted twice – the second time in the Love card, reflecting his roles as both an equal negotiator with Filippo, scion of the House of Sforza, and as his future son-in-law. As the latter in the Love card, Sforza is clothed in the Baton suit’s blue dress embroidered with the gold fountain device, which I believe clinches the identification of the missing King of Batons. Also of relevance is that the Baton suit's pips feature arrows instead of batons, which would link those court cards to Cupid, who wields two arrows in the Love trump. One might liken Sforza to Apollo, smitten by love's arrows for the chaste Daphne-Bianca, not unlike an implied theme in the Marziano deck, which drew on Ovid via Boccaccio, where we find Apollo, Venus, Cupid and Daphne among the 16 gods (notably the related Brambilla's baton pips are not arrows).

Gian Galeazzo Visconti / Filippo Maria Visconti / Union of Bianca-Francesco in "Love" trump / Sforza / Muzio Attendolo da Cotignola
Visconti-CY Love-Sforza.JPG
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Clearly the male in the CY "Love" trump belongs with the Baton's suit - and I believe the reason why has been demonstrated above.
CY Baton court cards and CY Love groom.JPG
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Finally, the result of the union, in the Love card’s matrimonial bed, literally embodies all of the above: Galeazzo Maria Sforza.


Re: The Cary-Yale Kings – a nod to Visconti genealogy?

Quite a persuasive iconographic argument, Phaeded. I really like what you did with the Muzio allusion.

I'm still not sold on why the wedding itself should be the privileged date. Whether Bianca Maria or Francesco commissioned it, neither was issuing their own money, and her family's wealth is what is being represented. Why couldn't it be pretty much any time up until FMV's death?

I have no sense that Filippo Maria ever thought of Sforza and Bianca inheriting Milan. If I had to guess I would say it was the last scenario he could have envisaged, even less likely than a new Ambrosian Republic, if that thought ever crossed his mind.

Re: The Cary-Yale Kings – a nod to Visconti genealogy?

Ross G. R. Caldwell wrote:
29 Jul 2019, 17:59
I'm still not sold on why the wedding itself should be the privileged date. Whether Bianca Maria or Francesco commissioned it, neither was issuing their own money, and her family's wealth is what is being represented. Why couldn't it be pretty much any time up until FMV's death?
Short answer is Bianca was only a virgin once: the low matrimonial bed in the CY Love tent and the Chastity jousting shield held by her on the "Chariot" both disappear in the corresponding PMB cards , because she had borne children. You can say the PMB was an even later date, but that's irrelevant because the reality is she would not be shown as chaste nor in need of a matrimonial bed after she was married and gave birth. The significance of the matrimonial bed is found again in Galeazzo Maria Sforza's first wedding ritual in France (not Savoy, BTW) at which he was absent; nonetheless it was symbolically “consummated” (repeated a second time in Milan after Bona traveled there) via his stand in relation, Tristano, per a letter from the latter:

He told Galeazzo also of the symbolic consummation that was performed after the wedding ceremony, in the royal court’s presence. Bona and Tristano kissed and climbed into a bed, he on one side and she on the other. There, they ‘touched one another’s bare leg…according to the custom’" (Lubkin, A Renaissance Court: Milan under Galleazzo Maria Sforza, 1994: 49).

Her eldest was born 24 January 1444, but again, there is no need to show the consummating marriage bed after the 1441 marriage (and indeed it is not present in the PMB). That symbolically charged detail in the Love card sufficiently dates the CY for me. Again:


Additionally, I posit that Filippo commissioned it - why I prefer to call it a "condotte" deck, versus a wedding one. The rationale is the same with Giusti - if you read the full context in his journal you'll find this: Giusti had been dealing in person with the Florentine Dieci for years (as well as Malatesta who formerly owned nearby Borgo Sansepolcro); the Dieci give permission for Giusti's clients (Agnolo and Gregori d'Anghiari) to go work for Malatesta right after the battle of Anghiari; Giusti is in Malatesta's domain but does not give the deck to him until the Lega army (even Trevisan is present alomg with Agnolo/Gregorio, etc.) arrives....which begs the question as to whether the luxury deck took a while to be made and then was brought to Giusti from Florence by someone associated with the Florentine-Papal "Holy League" army. The point here is its hard to avoid the fact that Giusti was all but an agent of Florence (he never left the Florentine contado city of Anghiari, even when Malatesta later offers him a chancellor position), and pursued bringing Malatesta back into the Florentine-Papal fold, allied against Visconti. FMV would have been aware of this via Piccinino, who not only forced Malatesta into a neutral alliance before the battle of Anghiari but dealt with Giusti for matters of safe conducts through the Bolognese contado which he controlled at this time. Finally, Giusti goes on a secret mission for Malatesta directly to Cosimo at his villa at Carreggi when Giusti returns to Florence the following year in 1441. There is no question of Giusti being a middle man between Cosimo's inner circle (best represented by the Dieci at this time) and Malatesta. In that context, the luxury deck was a gift which further implied future Florentine/Papal contracts for Malatesta to rejoin the alliance. About a year after Giusti's gift to Malatesta, FMV steals Sforza away from said alliance...celebrated with the same luxury missive of tarot. FMV has commissioned cards below, sees the ur-tarot and can easily match if not one-up that, focusing of course on joined Visconti-Sforza armorials.
I have no sense that Filippo Maria ever thought of Sforza and Bianca inheriting Milan. If I had to guess I would say it was the last scenario he could have envisaged, even less likely than a new Ambrosian Republic, if that thought ever crossed his mind.
Smoking gun aside (i.e., a valid will naming Sforza, but Visconti soured on Sforza after the wedding, then named Alfonso), marrying the only child of the duke and succession is not a left field proposition. Bastard children of elites got married off to fellow elites all the time, and Sigismondo Malatesta, Leonello d'Este, etc. were themselves bastards (and yes Bianca is a woman, but female rulers were not unknown to FMV; i.e., the Angevin queen Joanna II of Naples). And I would also propose that the primary thing crossing FMV's mind in the last stage of his life is who he would be leaving his duchy to. Its not like he was choosing between bad egg legitimate children and Bianca....Bianca was it. The problem with Bianca she was a female....but Sforza adopts Visconti's name at the marriage; again the contemporary Pisanello medal marked VICOMES. All of Sforza's correspondence after this date is signed by combination of his name with that of Visconti's (e.g., the request for tarot from Lodi in 1449...before he has taken Milan). Pisanello's medals for Visconti and Sforza are contemporary - is there really an argument that Visconti was not aware of Sforza's use of VICOMES and indeed, warranted it?


Re: The Cary-Yale Kings – a nod to Visconti genealogy?

Thanks, you know this particular history much better than I do. I know enough to know that gifts can be diplomatic and propagandistic (if trying to persuade the giftee can be described with that word), so it is not out of the question that Triumph cards served this purpose sometimes. But they were also made in that high quality, generically as it were, for high-paying customers, as we know from Sforza's order for them..

You might see the Tarot Giusti commissioned for Malatesta as that, your narrative is the only one I know, so it stands unchallenged. I just haven't thought much about it. Couldn't Malatesta have asked Giusti to get him a fine copy of this new game, custom made of course, and nothing more?

But if your reading of the Pavia insignia over the marriage bed is right, pointing to the heir, wouldn't that make the date more likely after Galeazzo Maria's birth? Or was the hope enough to tempt fate like that?

Well, I'll study your arguments more, maybe I can fill in the gaps in my own knowledge of the context as well.

Re: The Cary-Yale Kings – a nod to Visconti genealogy?

I've got a looong post on Giusti I need to make after editing some more, but I of course regard the full context of his journal fundamental. Its easy to machine translate as you can copy Newbigin's pdf (available on her webpage and I'm just surprised none of our Italian-speaking friends, especially Pratesi, never dove into that (like you and Marziano, I feel like Giusti is falling on me, albeit I'll just be providing choice excerpts).

Some errata/corrections of my above: Forget all of the bastardy issues - Bianca was legitimized as a child - I think in 1426 (need to confirm in this source: Storia di Milano. Bd. 6: Il ducato visconteo e la Repubblica Ambrosiana (1392-1450), Cognasso, Francesco [Ed.]. - Milano , 1955: 389) - but at the same time she was ruled out for succession. That does not rule out her children and again Filippo, like his father, was obsessed with his family's divinely sanctioned genealogy so it is fairly inconceivable he'd select someone not of the blood (Alfonso was a late choice - if in fact a will chose him as speculated - made out of spite since Sforza had abandoned him right after the wedding and the ensuing years).

But that's just it - there is no record of a rapprochement, although surely the birth of Galeazzo would have been such an opportunity; there's simply no record of that, but plenty of militant hostilties between FMV and Sforza (far from a rapprochment, FMV launched an invasion of Cremona in 1446 in order to take back the dowry city, such was his bitterness towards Sforza).

No one can fathom what was in Filippo's fickle brain in 1441, but I'll hazard this guess: his successors would be his grandchildren born in wedlock (avoiding the legitimization taint), with Bianca and Sforza as regents until they came of age (the dowry cities of Cremona and Pontremoli guarded the approaches to the duchy from the east and west respectively - Sforza would keep the duchy in tact for the most legitimate successor possible for Visconti). So my second-guessing of Sforza as a direct successor (however much Sforza saw things that way), is that Sforza would act as regent for Visconti's grandson from the peripheral cities granted to him. Thus was FMV's rosy dream of things in 1441, shattered within the year with Bianca and Sforza being feted in Venice.

Regarding the taint even of the legitimization of bastards: Malatesta, incredibly, petitioned Florence for Borgo Sansepolcro, the prize of the Anghiari campaign, for himself (this not in Giusti; but I'll post the relevant sources in forthcoming Giusti post) . Malatesta and his fellow illegitimate brothers were legitimized by the conveyance of Borgo to the pope; reacquiring it as part of the Malatesta dominion would have erased the tainting rationale for why it was separated in the first place. Florence replied in the negative, "but hey, here's a nice deck of cards instead" (actually we only have the Florentine response on 10 December 1440, after Malatesta got the cards, but surely the earlier gift of cards were a warming, palliative measure, knowing they were eventually going to say no). Its hard to imagine how much chastity and bastardy meant then, but it is self-evidently tangible (the CY chariot, Malatesta's actions here, etc.).

Finally, the problem of the Pavia banner. In my theory it is decorating a tent housing a matrimonial bed because the bed in turn implies FMV's future grandchildren, the eldest male of whom would become count of Pavia (which indeed happened, but certainly not in the manner FMV envisioned). But one more piece of errata: I've spoken of the Count of Pavia in terms of being a successor title (like the Prince of Wales) but in fact FMV had that title when he was second in line to the succession after his older brother, per Michelino's genealogy, where the Pavia title is given in the Latin (Papie, I believe). So the count position was once removed from the full duke title, just as his grandson would be, in terms of regents ruling in the interim. That is of course speculative, but there is no need for the matrimonial bed after the 1441 wedding; and again, the PMB not only dispenses with the bed but shows the resulting Bianca/Sforza issue as putti in the World card: Galeazzo and Ippolita (putti are never shown as female), holding their birthright of a restored Milan - Galeazzo, the firstborn male, pointing to himself as successor. I'd also argue FMV has finally been given proper funeral rites, and also depicted as a putto, with radiate head like his sunburst dove stemma, born aloft to heaven by another putto with the red corral-necklace usually worn by Christ:

I wrote about this previously here: viewtopic.php?f=11&t=917&p=13644&hilit= ... ead#p13644
Relevant source:
The attributes of the Madonna on folio 109v in Lat. 757 (Fig 26)...The sun behind the Christ child in this miniature is associated not only with the infant Savior but also, in conjunction with the silver crescent moon on the step of the throne, with the Virgin as the Woman of the Apocalypse, "clothed with the sun" and with the moon "under her feet" (Revelation 12:1). Petrus de Castelletto, the Augustinian friar who composed Giangaleazzo's eulogy, constructed it around yet another attribute of the Woman of the Apocalypse. The Duke of Milan [Filippo's father] and Count of Virtues, whose ensign in life had been the rays of the sun, said Petrus, would in death receive a radiant crown terminating in twelve stars, each representing one of his virtues; the crown, moreover, would be none other than that described in Revelations 12:1 as belonging to the Woman of the Apocalypse.” (Edith W. Kirsch. Five Illuminated Manuscripts of Giangaleazzo Visconti 1991: 29).

Not exactly matching the Petrus's description (the number of rays at least), but the Sun trump portray's the same postmortem sentiment, and ties back to the father's genealogy tree of coin-like medallions. In the PMB the medallions are replaced by the allegorical putti that had come to dominate manuscript decoration by the mid-Quattrocento - each generation depicted in the PMB associated with putti: Visconti's soul to heaven in the Sun card, Bianca and Sforza joined under putto-as-Eros in the Love card, Visconti's grandchildren beneath the city they are intended to inherit in the World card.


Re: The Cary-Yale Kings – a nod to Visconti genealogy?

One problem with your argument, Phaeded, is that this is not the only Visconti Love card ever made. If nothing else, there is the Brera-Brambilla's. What do you suppose it looked like? Why wouldn't it have had a marriage bed, too? Even the heraldics are not specific enough, if the reference point was the parents of the first duke (as well as, possibly, Filippo's own marriage) and the resulting close ties between Savoy and Milan, reflected in every Visconti tarot deck, perhaps also ones given to the rulers of Savoy but not only them. The problem is that we do not know enough about the context of this deck to say anything about the card than what we see: Cupid, a couple about to be married, a marriage bed. the heraldic of the Visconti and another of an ambiguous signification. It is the heraldics in the court cards that confirm that the deck has something to do with the marriage of Francesco and Bianca Maria, unless there was a Sforza-Visconti marriage I don't know about. That said, I do think that Francesco and Bianca Maria may well have wanted the deck to be seen in the way you describe, based not only on the PMB but also other depictions of them.

Re: The Cary-Yale Kings – a nod to Visconti genealogy?

mikeh wrote:
02 Aug 2019, 02:16
One problem with your argument, Phaeded, is that this is not the only Visconti Love card ever made. If nothing else, there is the Brera-Brambilla's. What do you suppose it looked like? Why wouldn't it have had a marriage bed, too? ...
Because Brambilla doesn't date from 1428 (Filippo's wedding year), per the coins - and just as the PMB does not date from Sforza's wedding year, there is no matrimonial bed there either. Plus Filippo hated his wife, Marie of Savoy (didn't have a single kid). And I maintain the hypothesis that the Marziano was used for Filippo's "down time" spent with his beloved Agnese, Bianca's mother. Perhaps just a coincidence but the few Quattrocento images we have of people playing cards, its mixed male and female company:


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