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Re: Collection "How Petrarca became famous" (till 1450)

Posted: 30 Dec 2012, 07:50
by Huck
Unicorn is connected to "Chastity" or to the "Virgin" cause of it has only one horn ... as men have only one penis, I would assume.

Time might be connected to the stag (reindeer), cause the pol-star doesn't move, but turns all other stars. The pol-star indicates the North, and in the North lives the reindeer.

Re: Elephants

Posted: 30 Dec 2012, 11:57
by Ross G. R. Caldwell
mikeh wrote: Mussacchio has no trouble explaining why there are elephants on the panel:
The white-robed figure of Fame is surrounded by a mandorla and seated on a chariot, which is pulled, as Petrarch specified, by elephants.
Ah, yes, that elusive Petrarch reference!
I'm certain that Petrarch didn't "specify" any particular design for Fama, let alone that her chariot be drawn by four elephants.

The motif is, however, classical and triumphal, first cited in the triumph of no less a character than Pompey. Sigismondo of course adopted the elephant as part of his heraldry (no doubt for the triumphal association), and the inventors of the canonical Petrarchan triumphal iconography must have used the same sources.

Pliny the Elder's account of Pompey's African triumph (translation John Bostock and H.T. Riley at Perseus ... hapter%3D2 -


The first harnessed elephants that were seen at Rome, were in the triumph of Pompeius Magnus over Africa, when they drew his chariot; a thing that is said to have been done long before, at the triumph of Father Liber on the conquest of India. Procilius (1) says, that those which were used at the triumph of Pompeius, were unable to go in harness through the gate of the city....

[Note 1: Plutarch informs us, that Pompey had resolved to have his chariot drawn by four elephants, but finding the gate too narrow, he was obliged to use horses.—B[ostock].]"

Plutarch's account (Life of Pompey, 14; translation Bernadotte Perrin at LacusCurtius ... mpey*.html):

"Pompey ... tried to ride into the city on a chariot drawn by four elephants; for he had brought many from Africa which he had captured from its kings. But the gate of the city was too narrow, and he therefore gave up the attempt and changed over to his horses."

Re: Re: Elephants

Posted: 31 Dec 2012, 02:02
by mikeh
Ross, I was being ironic when I spoke of the "elusive Petrarch reference," since I had already said that I could find no reference to elephants in Petrarch. It is odd how art historians repeat each other without checking--an article based on a Princeton Ph.D. thesis, no less. If we did that, we'd know about it in a hurry. That's the beauty of internet forums.

Another repetition of this misinformation is Margaret Ann Zaho's Imago Triumphalis, p. 81, at ... ts&f=false. Like the other authors, she gives no citation.

Thanks for the Plutarch link, and the Pliny. I had mentioned Pliny earlier, but couldn't find the passage online to link to. Not having that much time, I posted without it. I also mentioned, without links, Diodorus Siculus and Athenaeus; both of course were less accessible than Pliny, being in Greek (until Pogio's translation of Diodorus). The Diodorus is in the context of Dionysus returning from India to give the first Triumph, ... s/3E*.html. Another in Latin is Livy (quoted at, speaking of the Triumph of M. Marcellus, 211 b.c.e., with eight elephants. Zaho says that Livy also talks about Scipio's use of elephants, and so does Polybius (she gives no specific reference, of course). But Wikipedia (previous link) cites Livy as saying that Scipio was denied a Triumph. The Polybius reference, per Wikipedia, is 11.33.7. Athenaeus's account is in the context of Antiochus's use of elephants in a procession emulating Dionysus. He had one chariot pulled by 4 elephants, another pulled by 2 elephants, followed by 36 more elephants, and then "a figure of Bacchus twelve cubits high" on an elephant, with a satyr on its neck, and a bunch more chariots pulled by elephants. See ... t_djvu.txt.

Re: Collection "How Petrarca became famous" (till 1450)

Posted: 31 Dec 2012, 09:13
by mikeh
Reviewing my earlier contention that there was a discrepancy between Shorr and Callman regarding which picture went with which of the two Paris manuscripts, and hence a discrepancy between Callman and Hurst (on Wikimedia Commons), I see that I was quite confused. There is no discrepancy. All I can think of is that I was misled by the order in which the pictures are presented in Callman, in which the later picture is presented first.

Meanwhile, in my attempt to resolve my imagined discrepancy, I came upon another book discussing the Paris pictures, with more information. It is Five Illuminated Manuscripts of Giangaleazzo Visconti, by Edith W. Kirsch, 1991. She says p. 3)
Around 1335, Azzo invited Giotto himself to Milan to adorn his splendid new palace. Here, in a large room, was a painting of pagan warriors, among them Hercules, Hector, Aeneas, and Attila. Only two Christian princes were included among this company: Charlemagne and Azzo Visconti. Creighton Gilbert has shown that in all probability this was the Triumph of Fame (Vana Gloria) that Giotto is recorded as having painted in fresco for Azzo in 1335. Moreover, Gilbert has demonstrated that the appearance of Giotto's lost work may be reconstructed through illuminations of the same subject in three manuscripts of Petrarch's De Viris illustribus, two of them confiscated by Giangaleazzo, together with the rest of Francesco da Carrara's library, in 1388 (Fig. 1). (8) Irving Lavin has observed that if Gilbert's reconstruction is correct, Giotto must be credited with having invented in Azzo's palace the tradition of monumental grisaille for the representation of worthies of antiquity and of Renaissance princes who wished to identify themselves with these worthies. (9) [Footnote 8: C. Gilbert, "The Fresco by Giotto in MIlan," Arte Lombarda nos. 47/48, 1977, 31-72. Gilbert's article contains a comprehensive bibliography on the subject. The two Petrarch manuscripts expropriated by Giangaleazzo from Francesco da Carrara are now in the Bibliotheque nationale in Paris (Lat. 6069 F and Lat. 6069 I), having been confiscated by Louis XII in 1499. On these manuscripts, see Paris, 1984, nos. 73 and 74. A contemporary description of Azzo's palace appears in Galvano Fiamma's Opusculum de rebus gestis ab Azone, Luchino, et Jahanne Vicecomitibus ab anno MCCCCXXVIII usque ad annum MCCCXLII, RIS, xii, pt. 4, 1011f. Footnote 9: Professor Lavin is preparing a study of this tradition for publication. He kindly communicated his observation on Giotto to me during several stimulating discussions of Visconti patronage.
Paris 1984, is Bibliotheque nationale, Dix siecles d'enluminure italienne (VIe-XVIe siecles), ed. F. Avril et al. Fig 1. is the picture that Michael dates "c. 1488". The caption reads:
Fig. 1. Altichiero, c. 1480. Triumph of Fame. Paris, Bibl. nat., Lat. 6069I, fol. I.
In the text, she says "circle of Altichiero" (p. 82, n. 42). But what is the argument? And why "c. 1380", as opposed to Michael's "c. 1388"? (Well, I can see that it had to be before 1388, but why as early as 1380?) And what is the relationship between Giotto's fresco of 1335 and the lost frescoes in Padua on the same theme, before 1388, which Shorr ("Some notes on the iconography of Petrarch's Triumph of Fame", Art Bulletin 20:1 (March 1938)), said were the model for the illuminations? Here Mommsen ("Petarch and the decoration of the Sala Virorum Illustrium in Padua", Art Bulletin 1952) gets me part way, but not enough. Hirsch (p. 82) points out that both the Giotto and the ones for Carrara in Padua were in grisaille (for the latter, Mommsen p. 106 and note 84), and that "The grisaille in Lat. 6069F is echoed in a Thebaid of Status attributed to Altichiero's associate, Jacopo Avanzo (Mellini, Altichieri e Jacopo Avanzi, pl. opp. 104)". Probably I need to read the works Kirsch refers to, the Gilbert (a name that Michael mentioned, but what he was talking about I did not figure out until now) and the Avril et al. Well, the libraries will open again soon.

Incidentally: Ross, you don't have to translate the de' Pasti letter. A translation has been published, or so I understand from my reading. On January 2 or 3 a library near me that has the book will reopen.

Re: Cows, bulls, oxen, and buffaloes

Posted: 31 Dec 2012, 09:47
by mikeh
Huck wrote:
mikeh wrote: Here Lynn White, Jr.’s essay, “Indic Elements in the Elements of the Iconography of Petrarch's Trionfo della Morte," (Speculum 49:2 (April 1974)), is quite helpful. He presents an impressive survey of the medieval figure of Death, and before the 14th century finds no animal whatever associated with Death besides the horse, which he says is the “pale horse” of the fourth horseman of the Apocalypse. It would have been logical for the illuminator, having painted white horses for Love, to have painted black ones, or perhaps pale ones, for Death. And indeed in 1414 Bologna (I get the date from another source) that is just what we see, horses that White says are colored light violet and pink (p. 212) in the first known illustration of Petrarch’s Trionfi.

I know two pictures from the 1414 Bologna version and I had the opinion, that there were only two. I identify this not as Morte, but as Fame.|home

Shorr, 1938, talks about the 1414 Bologna. She says (p. 103):
Although the earliest pictorial representation of the series does not appear until about the middle of
the fifteenth century, the earliest known illustrated manuscript of Petrarch's poem was executed in Bologna in 1414 (Cod. ital. 81, Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, Munich). The volume contains only two small pictures, one of which represents a Triumph. It appears in the text of the Triumph of Death (Part II), but is usually described as a Triumph of Fame and depicts two horses drawing a four-wheeled cart in which six sages (?) are seated, while the back of the cart is occupied by a winged figure enveloped in a cloak.
So the reason why White assumed it was a Triumph of Death is that it appeared in the Triumph of Death part of Petrarch's poem. She says the other one isn't a Triumph, but I don't see why not, given that it was not typical to show Death on a cart or associated with an animal. The figure next to the bed (in the post you linked to) might be the Angel of Death; and the dancing figure below the scene to me strongly suggests Death Triumphant. Fame is different, in that Boccaccio explicitly portrayed her in a carro, as Shorr quotes him (p. 103 and note 6):
"....Among the throng
Appeared a Lady there, comely and pure,
Who seemed to have dominion o'er them all.
Her head with gold and richest stones was crowned,
Her countenance was kind yet full of strength.
Bravely she triumphed o'er the crowd around
And gazed at them while seated on her car
Bedecked with laurel leaves. A cleaving sword
She bore, with which, methought,
She threatened all the world.
Imperial her garments seemed to be,
Her left hand held an apple of pure gold.
I saw her seated on a royal throne
And at her right, two steeds with mighty chests
Amid the august throng the chariot drew.
Another thing I noted with surprise:
The sov'reign Lady, enemy of Death,
Was with a mighty circle all enclosed
Which 'compassed her complete from head to foot.
Methought that nothing was in all the world,
No town nor village, whether far or near
That had not been included in this sphere.
Above her head, and not in vain, was writ
A verse in which this noble legend ran:
'I am the Glory of Terrestrial Man'." (6)

Footnote 6: " .... infra gran gente
Donna pareva 11 leggiadra e pura.
Tutti 11 soprastava veramente
Di ricche pietre coronata e d'oro,
Nell'aspetto magnanima e possente:
Ardita sopra un carro tra costoro
Grande e trionfal lieta sedea,
Ornato tutto di frondi d'alloro,
Mirando questa gente: in man tenea
Una spada tagliente, con la quale
Che '1 mondo minacciasse mi parea.
I1 suo vestire a guisa imperi'ale
Era, e teneva nella man sinestra
Un pomo d'oro; e 'n trono alla reale
Vidi sedeva, e dalla sua man destra
Due cavalli eran che col petto forte
Traeano il carro tra la gente alpestra.
E intra I'altre cose, che iscorte
Quivi furon da me intorno a questa
Sovrana donna, nemica di morte,
Nel magnanimo aspetto fu, ch'a sesta
Un cerchio si movea grande e ritondo
Da piN passando a lei sopra la testa.
Ne credo che sia cosa in tutto '1 mondo,
Villa, paese dimestico o strano,
Che non paresse dentro da quel tondo.
Era sopra costei, e non invano,
Scritto un verso, che dicea leggendo:
lo son la Gloria del popol mondano."-Chap. VI.)

Re: Reindeer

Posted: 01 Jan 2013, 01:22
by mikeh
Huck wrote,
Time might be connected to the stag (reindeer), cause the pol-star doesn't move, but turns all other stars. The pol-star indicates the North, and in the North lives the reindeer.
I see, I guess. I have another idea: reindeer are called the swiftest of creatures because, according to the poem "The Night before Christmas," they have all those presents to deliver in one night. Originally it must have been a sleigh, not a chariot. Happy New Year, Huck and everyone.

de' Pasti letter in English

Posted: 03 Jan 2013, 02:25
by mikeh
Here is the letter of Matteo de' Pasti to Piero de' Medici, 1441, in English (from Chambers, Patrons and Artists in the Italian Renaissance, 1971, pp. 94-95):
Admirable and honoured Sir:
By this letter I beg to inform you that since being in Venice I have learnt something which coild not be more suited to the work I am doing for you, a technique of using powdered gold like any other colour, and I have already begun to paint the Triumphs in this manner, so that you will never have seen anything like them before. The foliage is all touched up with this powdered gold, and I have embroidered it over the maidens in a thousand ways. So I warmly beg you to send me instructions for the other fantasies, so that I can complete them for you; and if you want me to send these to you I will do so: you need only send me the order for what you want me to do and I shall be prompt to obey you in whatever pleases you. And I warmly beg you to forgive me for what I have done, because you know I was forced to do so. Resolve the matter as you wish, and if you so please, send me your instructions to go ahead with the Triumph of Fame, because I have details of the fantasy already, except that I do not know whether you want the seated woman in a simple dress or a cloak as I would like her to be. I know all the rest of what is to go in: the four elephants drawing her chariot, though I do not know whether you want young men and maidens surrounding her or famous old men; so please tell me all, because I shall make a thing of beauty in the way that pleases you. And forgive me for everything, what I am doing now will be worth more one day than all I have done before. So do me this gracious service, deign to let me have a reply, and let me finish it, so that you may see a thing that has never been like this before, embellished with this powdered gold. I recommend myself to you.
Venice, 24...1441
From the least of your servants, Matteo de' Pasti
It is clear, from his words "'send me instructions for the other fantasies," that he is thinking in terms of more than just the Triumph of Fame, probably all six. It is not clear how many were made, or where Matteo lived before Venice. It would seem that the idea of the elephants came from Piero, but even that is not totally clear. If they were made, it was most likely a book illumination, because of the expensive paint, if any survived, there would be powdered gold in the paint, a Venetian technique he has just learned,

Chambers has one other letter concerning de' Pasti, from Leon Battista Alberti to de' Pasti, November 1454, from Rome, concerning the re-design of the church of San Francisco, Rimini; the letter has the "Olympian tone of the architectural consultant, exhorting the overseer to persevere with his model (best understood from Pasti's medallion struck in 1450) and not to heed proposals to mofidy or alter it," as Chambers says (p. 181).

Re: de' Pasti letter in English

Posted: 03 Jan 2013, 05:44
by Lorredan
mikeh wrote: It is not clear how many were made, or where Matteo lived before Venice. It would seem that the idea of the elephants came from Piero, but even that is not totally clear. If they were made, it was most likely a book illumination, because of the expensive paint, if any survived, there would be powdered gold in the paint, a Venetian technique he has just learned,
Nothing to do with Truimphs :)
Benozzo Gozzoli was the right hand man of Giovanni Angelico whom worked on San Marco Venice (and Florence) and Matteo di Pasti taught Benozzo the powdered Gold and ground lapis lasuli technique to use on the Adoration of the Maji (1459)In the private Medici Chapel. Cosimo wanted the work to outdo Gentile da Fabriano's Adoration because it was Cosimo's never forgiven enemy Palla Strozzi's commission. I believe that Cosimo bought Matteo to Florence to teach the technique.

Re:stags/harts/deer = time as swift

Posted: 03 Jan 2013, 12:40
by SteveM
I think just as the ass was an emblem of 'nought' because it was 'empty-headed' the simple, straightforward and most likely relationship between stags and time is via its association with swiftness, which goes back to ancient times. (Thus Achilles was said to be swift-footed because he was fed on a diet of stag marrow. It was also said to impart endurance to undergo the chase for a long time.)

IN ancient time the wise were able,
In proper terms, to write a fable:
Their tales would always justly suit
The characters of ev'ry brute.
The ass was dull, the lion brave,
The stag was swift, the fox a knave;
The daw a thief, the ape a droll,
The hound would scent, the wolf would prole;
A pigeon would, if shown by Æsop,
Fly from the hawk, or pick his pease up.

(Jonathan Swift)

Re: Re:stags/harts/deer = time as swift

Posted: 03 Jan 2013, 14:07
by marco
SteveM wrote:I think just as the ass was an emblem of 'nought' because it was 'empty-headed' the simple, straightforward and most likely relationship between stags and time is via its association with swiftness, which goes back to ancient times. (Thus Achilles was said to be swift-footed because he was fed on a diet of stag marrow. It was also said to impart endurance to undergo the chase for a long time.)
Hello Steve. Possibly, another explanation is that stags were thought to live for a long time:

Pliny the Elder, The Natural History, VIII, 50:

The stag is generally admitted to be very long lived; some were captured at the end of one hundred years with the golden collars which Alexander the Great had put upon them, and which were quite concealed by the folds of the skin, in consequence of the accumulation of fat.

I found the reference to Pliny on

But this 1645 edition of Ripa seems to confirm that it's the swiftness of stags that relates them to Time, as you suggest:
Cesare Ripa wrote: CARRO DEL TEMPO.
Come dipinto dal Petrarca.
Un Vecchio con due grand'ali alle spalle, appoggiato a due croccio-
le et tiene in cima del capo un horologio da polvere e starà sopra un
carro tirato da due velocissimi cervi.
Chariot of Time. As painted by Petrarch.
An old man with great wings on his shoulders leaning on crutches. He keeps a hourglass on his head. He stands on a chariot pulled by two very fast deer.

It seems that assigning to Petrarch the details added by the illustrators of his works has a long tradition :)